F’ville commercial vacancies: 1 in 4

Office space even worse: Nearly 1 out of every 3 F’ville offices are empty

Fayetteville, the commercial capital of the county, is suffering through a tenant drought, with one in every four commercial properties empty, and nearly one in every three office spaces vacant, the City Council was told last week.

Fayetteville during 2009 saw a 25 percent vacancy rate for commercial properties and a 30 percent vacancy rate in office space during the last five months of the year. Figures on the city’s vacancies were presented at the City Council retreat Feb. 12 by Senior Planner Linwood Robinson.

Commercial vacancies from August through December ranged from 24.9 percent to 25.8 percent, Robinson said.

Vacancies in office space have been similarly affected by the recession, with rates virtually holding steady during the August-December period at 30 percent.

Reporting on vacant industrial space, Robinson said those properties saw vacancies ranging from 5-5.7 percent during the same period.

Robinson reviewed the city’s current response to the vacancies and the incentives available to help foster new business growth.

The city has a 50 percent exemption in place for impact fees and sewer proportionate fees for redevelopment and re-use of existing retail space where development would increase ad valorem taxes, said Robinson. The exemption is set to expire in May and could be renewed by the council.

The city is also awaiting approval by the General Assembly for a Tax Allocation District (TAD) measure that, if approved by voters, would encourage the redevelopment of the city’s older commercial and office space by offsetting redevelopment costs, Robinson said. To date there are at least three sites that could be considered for TAD projects.

Robinson also noted the expedited application process in place in the Planning & Zoning Department and the relaxed requirements with the sign ordinance previously approved by the council.