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There is a growing and vocal concern by Belmont Shore residents over the store vacancies on Second Street.

As a property owner on the street and a local resident of over 30 years, I am well aware of the turnover that occurs here. This is not abnormal for Belmont Shore and the vacancy rate is actually low compared to industry standards. I do believe, however, that this is a good opportunity to have a dialogue about what it takes to have a successful retail district.

There are some key factors regarding Second Street that we need to consider. Commercial landlords must put in the effort to select tenants relevant to evolving consumer tastes and needs. The old saying, “Many a false step is made by standing still.” is on point for our community.

Unfortunately, many locals get upset with change. However longevity does not always equal quality. In my opinion, we will need to change our mix of options or we will neither be vibrant nor relevant to attract shoppers and this will hurt the entire Belmont Shore area. We need to work together to keep our retail district special and this will take change and some hard decisions.

The past mix of tenants isn’t going to work. I believe in not complaining unless you bring a potential solution to the argument. Please let the Second Street landlords know what tenants and uses you would like to see and would financially support.

If you are upset that a tenant is leaving our district, please ask yourself how frequently you spent money at that store. Don’t believe the argument that tenants are leaving because the rent is too high. The issues that businesses all over the state are experiencing are rising wages, workers comp and competing with online shopping. The internet and changing tastes have possibly contributed the most to the retail vacancies you are seeing.

There are also other circumstances specific to Belmont Shore that may be contributing to a decline in retail prosperity. An increase in the presence of vagrants and undesirables has been unsettling to many and could deter shoppers from wanting to walk the street.

There is also the issue of parking. Not only the matter of availability, but more so the two hour limit and risk of receiving a ticket can keep shoppers from spending time here to shop. Lastly, landlords not only need to choose tenants wisely, but also keep up their properties so that they are visually appealing and lend to an upscale environment.

As we compete to keep local dollars local, we must keep in mind all of these components and work together as landlords, business owners and residents/consumers for our area to thrive.

Kurt Schneiter is the owner of Maverick Investments.

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