On Tuesday, June 30, 2015, Patrick Bowen presented findings from a Downtown Retail Feasibility Study, conducted for Main Street Morgantown in West Virginia. Below is an article written after this presentation.
Study: Parking, safety could be reasons for vacant retail space
MORGANTOWN — A feasibility study on downtown Morgantown and the Wharf District shows that of the surveyed 374,586 square feet of retail space, more than 8 percent is vacant.
And although this is slightly lower than the regional and national averages, leasing rates for downtown retail space are “substantially lower than those reported at competitive shopping centers in Morgantown,” according to the study.
The study, presented by Patrick Bowen, owner and founder of Ohio-based Bowen National Research, on Tuesday night, June 30, to the Morgantown City Council Committee of the Whole (COW), attributes the low rates to parking, traffic and safety concerns from stakeholders, and many spaces being in poor condition.
A COW meeting is a non-voting, and discussion-based session with the council.
The more than 200-page report, solicited to Bowen by Main Street Morgantown, assesses current retail market conditions, shopping centers outside downtown and provides recommendations to fix retail problems.
Charlie McEwuen, of Main Street Morgantown, after hearing the presentation, gave the council an update as to what Main Street is doing.
“Bottom line is … according to a lot of the downtown merchants, safety is a very important factor right now, or the perception of safety.”
And although McEwuen said he feels comfortable and safe downtown, he has heard that many do not. And to address that issue, he suggested adding more lighting and addressing “probably the No. 1 topic for all downtown merchants … undesirables. … We have some homeless downtown, but most of the people that are causing concern for our customers, for a lack of better word, I’m going to call them bums — they are just people that hang out downtown and intimidate passersby.”
He recommended adding more police officers on the streets.
The study used demographic data for population, households, and employment came from ESRI, the 2000 and 2010 United States Census, Applied Geographic Solutions, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the American Community Survey, according to the report.