Study reveals vacancy ‘snapshot’

A study refutes the perception that downtown Vernon is overwhelmed by vacant storefronts

A study refutes the perception that downtown Vernon is overwhelmed by vacant storefronts.

A survey conducted by the City of Vernon and the Downtown Vernon Association shows a vacancy rate of 7.9 per cent for street-level units in the central core Nov. 2 to 6.

“It’s a good snapshot,” said Kevin Poole, the city’s economic development manager. “Council had a goal in its strategic plan of a vacancy rate of 10 per cent or less downtown. Overall, I don’t think it’s too bad at all.”

The survey shows a six per cent vacancy rate on 30th Avenue and 13.1 per cent for those streets immediately off of 30th Avenue. For the rest of downtown, the vacancy rate is 7.9 per cent.

The report also highlights commercial vacancies more than 5,000-square-feet in size.

They include the former Liquidation World, the old legion building and the former Canadian Mental Health building.

“They aren’t easy sites to resolve, especially with such large square footage,” said Poole. “Prospective businesses also look at parking.”

But while some challenges exist with large properties, Poole believes there are opportunities for new tenants overall downtown.

“We have to make people aware of what is available.”

Among the initiatives being launched by the city is an online portal with maps.

“The map will highlight capital projects, new and proposed developments, along with vacant commercial space and redevelopment opportunities in the downtown,” said Poole.