The Local Market Experts


Solutions in Progress for Empty Anchor Stores in Longmont

Posted on: Apr 6 18

by: admin

Empty anchor stores in Longmont Commercial retail spaces — most notably the shuttered Safeway on Pace Street — are dragging down neighboring stores and eateries, members of the local business community told Longmont officials Wednesday at the year’s first Local Business Advisory Committee meeting.

Teresa MacPhail, owner of Mac’s Place diner at Fox Creek Marketplace, told meeting attendees — who included Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley, and City Councilwomen Polly Christensen and Marcia Martin — that large vacant stores are “an eyesore” that result in lost revenue for nearby businesses.

She estimated sales at her restaurant, opened with husband Keith MacPhail in 2013, have been down 30 percent since the Safeway closed in September.

Part of the reason they chose to set up shop on Pace Street “was because we had a huge anchor” in the Safeway, she said, adding that it’s not just Mac’s Place that’s suffering.

“We have 12 other businesses in our shopping center that are losing between 10 and 30 percent (of sales),” she said. ” … It’s a huge concern to anyone attached (to a shopping center) where a large store decided to pull up its anchor and leave.”

She appealed to city leaders Wednesday for help addressing the vacancy issue.

The Local Business Advisory Committee, a volunteer board overseen by the Longmont Economic Development Partnership, was formed in 2016 in an effort to foster this type of dialog between business owners and city leadership.

Bagley said the Fox Creek Market place was designed to include a grocery, and — despite the opening of a King Soopers nearby — the neighborhood needs one there.

Many city business owners believe Safeway has a corporate policy that prohibits the sale of property to competing companies, therefore making the process of finding a buyer much more difficult.

Officials with Safeway did not return calls for comment Wednesday. The Times-Call reported in November that a company spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny if Safeway has a policy of not renting or selling vacant spaces to other grocery stores.

Christensen acknowledged that empty anchor stores are a problem, but the issue “is difficult because these are private properties” and the city can’t step in and force owners to sell or redevelop.

That doesn’t mean Longmont leaders must sit quietly until companies such as Safeway decided what to do with their empty stores.

Bagley said he and staff with the Longmont Economic Development Partnership will place calls to the grocery store’s corporate leadership to discuss possible solutions.

“Obviously grocery stores in that area work just fine — they’ve worked before and the King Soopers is working now,” he said, suggesting the possibility of appealing to Safeway to reopen or sell the property to another supermarket chain.

Regardless of the outcome of such a conversation, “it is worth a couple of phone calls.”

Jessica Erickson, president of the economic development partnership, agreed.

The advisory committee will work to develop “a list of potential solutions that city council might be able to help influence,” she said. “Then (Bagley) and I will schedule a call with the ownership and see if we can … put some creative ideas in front of them.”

Christensen said, “We just need to get (owners of vacant Longmont commercial real estate) jump-started. It’s not got good for anybody to have them empty.”

 

Source: Lucas High: 303-684-5310, lhigh@times-call.com

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