In Montreal, the number of vacant commercial spaces is decreasing in some neighbourhoods, but it hasn't really fluctuated in the downtown sector.
Across Montreal, the vacancy rate for storefronts is 13.1%, according to the city's open data portal, a slight decline from 15% in 2019.
Most of the worst affected areas are the city centre. The vacancy rate in the Ville-Marie district, which includes parts of major commercial streets such as St. Catherine Street, is 19%. A healthy range is between 4% and 7%, according to the City of Montreal.
The vacancy rate in the Ville-Marie district, which includes parts of major commercial streets such as St. Catherine Street, is 19%. (archive photo)
Photo: The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson
The fact that there are no more vacant storefronts than before, despite the fact that we faced a pandemic, is excellent newsLuc Rabouin, president of Montreal's executive committee, recently announced in an interview.
He said there were fewer reports of empty shops on many streets after renovations to make them more attractive. The vacancy rate along Mont Royal Avenue, in the Plateau area, fell from 14.5% in 2018 to 5.6% this year, after the street was closed to car traffic and redeveloped to add seating and green spaces.
On the other hand, downtown has suffered a loss of foot traffic due to increased remote work due to the pandemic — a situation all major cities face.
Representatives of several local business development groups, called business development corporations (BDC), reported low vacancy rates, even as high inflation and rumors of recession threatened their post-pandemic recovery.
Even Saint-Denis Avenue, long plagued by empty storefronts, saw its vacancy rate drop from 24% in 2020 to about 16%, according to the street's general manager. Software development center Rue Saint-Denis, Julien Vaillancourt Laliberté.
Mr. Vaillancourt Laliberté points out that things happen
very good Thanks to the completion of major road works, the completion of the Express Bike Network (REV) in Saint-Denis and provincial funds to help city centers recover from the pandemic. The street is also one of the few that allows residents to rent out their homes on short-term rental platforms, such as Airbnb.
The challenge of abandoned buildings
Mr. Vaillancourt Laliberté confirms that one of the challenges facing further reducing the vacancy rate is the presence of storefronts that have been closed for a long time, often in poor condition, and whose owners do not want to rent them.
Patrick Legault, President Software development center Hochelaga-Maisonneuve has the same opinion.
In general, landlords are happy to talk to us, arrange meetings and meet potential tenants, but some simply move out of their buildings,” explains Mr. Legault. The portion of St. Catherine Street he oversees has a 14% vacancy rate, partly due to buildings that are too abandoned to be occupied.
The city has introduced new rules requiring owners of vacant buildings to register and meet higher maintenance standards or face fines. Business association groups welcome the rules, but say it's unclear whether the city will enforce them.
Although SDC leaders are proud of the work being done to reduce vacancy rates, they warn that the difficult economic climate, high municipal taxes, lack of commercial rent control, and delays in commercial loan payments in times of the pandemic threaten to derail progress.
Wellington Street case
Wellington Street, in Montreal's Verdun neighbourhood, is full of beautiful storefronts lining the lively pedestrian neighbourhood.
With a commercial vacancy rate estimated by the Neighborhood Business Association at around 6%, the
The most wonderful street in the worldaccording to the magazine time outin 2022, is a success in the city's battle against the empty storefronts that plague many of Montreal's main arteries.
Wellington Street in Verdun. (archive photo)
Photo: CBC/Jillian Kistler D'Amours
Marie-Eve Girard, Business Development Consultant at Software development center Wellington believes Wellington Street has benefited from the influx of tourists not only after the magazine's rating time outBut also thanks to certain aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which have encouraged the citizens of Verdun to explore their local streets.
Because people were home, they rediscovered their neighborhood.
There was also great enthusiasm for buying local productsSays.
To further stimulate demand, Software development center Rents, month by month, a formerly vacant storefront to entrepreneurs who want to test out the neighborhood's business environment.
However, even on Wellington Street, all is not rosy. attached
For Rent He sits in the window of Boutique Sauvé, also known as JayMart, which is closing its doors after more than 100 years. Owner Amit Natalia says the main reason for closing the store is his health, but adds that business is now more difficult than ever.
With the coronavirus and the economy, people don't have money, and they don't spend moneydenounces the businessman.
Marie-Eve Girard declared that the street is not resting on its laurels. Ultimately, there is a possibility that it will become a victim of its own success when building owners raise commercial rents, thus forcing tenants to move out. In fact, the difficult economic situation has become more urgent as people are spending less.
Our street runs well, but we always remain vigilant.
Social development centers across the city work with their neighborhoods to organize events, including the Comic Book Festival on Saint-Denis Street and the outdoor sugar shack and giant puppets on Wellington Street. In Ville Marie, artists, businesses and non-profit organizations can apply for a permit to temporarily occupy a vacant store.
Attracting customers personally in the age of online shopping requires not only selling goods, but also creating a unique experience“, refers to Julien Vaillancourt Laliberté.
Are we going to stay home, take out the credit card to buy something that arrives at our door without human warmth, without the transmission of values, without an emotional connection to our street? I think (this experience) is what people want.
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