Store Front for Rent, Just .10 a Sq. Foot

One thing commonly found in America’s small towns today are empty store fronts. In many towns it’s obvious commercial property has simply been abandoned and not being maintained. Where the property owner is still spending on maintenance they can’t be covering their expenses from an empty room.

There’s been lots of discussion about how to revitalize our small town business centers and one of the major barriers is the cost of rent to start-up a business. Investing in a retail business or restaurant is a major risk in any economy or environment. Doing so in a community where the retail magnet is a huge box store within driving distance is even riskier.

This morning I was listening to a conversation between a US Senator, an author, and several pundits about revitalizing depressed areas. One example given was of a successful entertainer who took some of his millions, bought a large abandoned building in his hometown and offered it to start-ups for a monthly rental fee of just .10 cents a square foot.

It made me think of all the commercial square footage sitting vacant and not earning its owner any income. As a land lord in such a situation, why not drastically reduce your rental rates just to get a viable business in your space. If you make it easy for them up front you may find yourself on the winning end if the business succeeds and you are able to gradually  raise your rent in the end.

Seems like a win-win for everyone. The community begins to take on an air of health and vibrancy, quality of life begins to improve, jobs are potentially created, tax revenues increase, others are encouraged to take a chance, outsiders begin to think that maybe this would be a good place to raise a family or retire to, commercial property values increase, and the potential for a return on investment for the property owner is improved.

Last year I observed this sort of thing taking place in Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine district. What had once been an area of crime and urban decay is coming back from the abyss. A non-profit development group has been buying up and renovating properties for several years. The upper floors are converted into housing for different income levels while the ground level store fronts are made available to prospective entrepreneurs on a sliding scale, often with low-interest start-up loans.

What has made these programs possible in Cincinnati is the availability of large corporate investment combined with city, county, state, and federal guidance and funding. Most small communities have to deal with very tight and limited budgets and often lack the kind of corporate presence needed to help with investment.

So, one of the few remaining options is for the community’s commercial property owners to bite the bullet and take a chance. In the typical small town only a few people own the storefronts. If you are one of them, please give this a thought. If you are one of the millions of Americans with an idea and who would love to own your own business, find out who the land lords in your town are, get your business plan solidified, and then pay them a visit and see if you can negotiate yourself some affordable rent and a new beginning on life.

3 thoughts on “Store Front for Rent, Just .10 a Sq. Foot”

  1. We do indeed have a program to help Highland County residents start or expand their business. Grow!Highland County is a cooperative effort between Southern State Community College and the Highland County Chamber of Commerce. Grow! Highland County provides free and confidential assistance to anyone who asks. The program is led by enterprise facilitator, Sid Raisch and supported by business professionals throughout our communities who want to see our small business community grow and prosper. I invite everyone to visit the website, http://www.growhighlandcounty.com, call Sid at 937-302-0423, or contact the Chamber at 937-393-1111. We’re here to help!

    The idea of cooperative partnerships between vacant building owners and entrepreneurs is interesting. If anyone has an idea or offering, please call me at the Chamber and we’ll see what we can do to facilitate.

  2. This would work. This is a wonderful idea. What’s needed are two things: a benevolent owner and guidance for the prospective businessperson. And, I believe, Southern State has a program for those wanting to go into business. Wouldn’t it be nice if the city had to buy nearby residential properties to create parking for the big crowds on hand?

    1. I don’t know all the financial/investment particulars but I too think it could work. I would suggest the renter would have to pay for all utilities, maybe taxes, and necessary insurance coverage.

      I like your idea of adding to the mix professional business advice and Southern State would be a great resource for helping guide with the development of a business plan.

      I’m going to suggest to the Highland County Chamber of Commerce and SSCC they consider trying to coordinate such a program.

      Speaking to a local Greenfield business person today a subject was what reason would a person driving through Greenfield have to say to them self, “Wow, this would be a nice place to live?” A vibrant and alive business district could easily be the answer to that question.

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