Greater Saint Paul Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) announced the completion of a survey on retail space in downtown Saint Paul. Joe Spartz, President of BOMA, made the announcement at the Downtown Saint Paul Development Summit, hosted by the Minnesota Real Estate Journal.
“This new survey is the first in many years to measure the number of retailers and how much space they occupy in downtown Saint Paul,” he said. “Our research shows that Saint Paul currently has 276 retailers who occupy almost 1.2 million square feet of space.”
An increase in occupied retail space is an early indicator of the impact rapid residential growth is having on the downtown area. The Saint Paul Downtown Alliance requested BOMA to collect the information as one measure of success in driving growth in the Central Business District. BOMA, which has conducted research on downtown Saint Paul office market data for decades, also started to measure residential growth in 2014.
While residential growth is important to downtown Saint Paul’s future vitality, measuring new growth in retail is also valuable. Pat Wolf, the Chair of BOMA’s Marketing & Leasing Committee, the group responsible for conducting the research, commented on the results. “Seeing the 62% increase in residential growth in the past 4 years is very impressive, but if we don’t have an accompanying bump in retail, it will potentially slow future growth in the downtown population. Retail is so important to attracting and keeping new residents. This is why BOMA decided to invest the necessary resources to establish this baseline of retail presence, then measure again in the future to see if we are making progress. Anecdotal information on retail growth is great, but hard data is the best.”
While the overall office market has remained fairly stable over the past five years, the vacancy rate of Competitive office space continues to remain near 20%. BOMA anticipates the Competitive market occupancy level will trend upward over the next several years as retail expands, driven by demand from a larger residential population.