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Retail Space at a Premium in Raleigh

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RALEIGH — Anyone thinking of opening a retail store or other type of business in the Triangle may have trouble finding the space to do so. The Triangle Business Journal says retail space is at a premium.

When Laurice Hinton opened City Market Designs three years ago, her business was one of only a few in the area, but times have changed.

"I've always loved the area and it's really picked up a lot and flourished within the last two years," says Hinton.

Now, all of the retail space at City Market is full, except for one prime restaurant spot that's not expected to be vacant for long.

"It's available now," says Errol Frailey, director of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. "We've had some interest in it and I think that will fill up probably by fall.

The same is true at retail locations throughout the Triangle, where the retail vacancy rate is at a mere 3.58 percent.

"If you're a tenant, it makes it a little difficult to find space, because there just is so little available," says Bruce Lynch, president of Rosamund Property Company.

The areas with the least vacancies are Research Triangle Park, the Glenwood Avenue corridor, and downtown Raleigh. The highest vacancy rate is along Capitol Boulevard, where it's just under 11 percent, but the experts say the only reason for that is the recent demise of a few key anchor stores.

The lack of retail space means higher rent for retailers, but experts say it's obvious most are not having a problem paying it.

"From the standpoint of a tenant situation, the tenant has to do more sales if they pay higher rent, but with the growth in our area, it appears tenants are able to deal with that," says Lynch.

More retail space is being built, but retailers have to act quickly. Most shopping centers are 60-to-70 percent leased by the time construction begins, and retail space is expected to be tight until growth in the Triangle slows down.