Commercial vacancies decreasing in downtown core

More businesses are investing and moving to Victoria’s downtown core, as the number of vacant commercial properties is decreasing

More businesses are investing and moving to Victoria’s downtown core, as the number of vacant commercial properties has decreased over the past few months.

According to the Downtown Victoria Business Association, the vacancy rate for the downtown core currently sits at 7.84 per cent, down from the 8.53 per cent from the previous quarter.

Kerri Milton, executive director of the association, said over the summer, locations that were vacant for varying periods of time are starting to fill up.

“It’s an exciting decline because it’s going in the right direction. There’s been a lot of complaints about vacancies in the downtown and it causes people to loiter and do other things to vacant buildings,” Milton said. “So when you have buildings fill up, it fills the street, it adds vibrancy and drives economies. It’s all very exciting.”

More traditionally vacant areas, such as Fort Street, are also being filled with new businesses as well, Milton noted.

Fort Properties Ltd. is in the process of renovating a space across from the Royal Theatre. Manager Suzanne Bradbury said the vacancy was filled before they could begin marketing to bring businesses to the space.

She added the mix of a booming tourism season, the growth of the tech community downtown, the increase in people applying for business licences and Victoria mayor and council being supportive of start-up businesses, has contributed to new businesses eyeing downtown as the perfect place to set up shop.

“I definitely think there is a lot of eyes on downtown and there are a lot of talented people in our community. I think what’s happening is the time feels right. The municipality is open for business and it’s supportive of business and the people who want to bring their talent to our downtown community,” Bradbury said.

“We are getting a lot of new people entering the market…there’s always going to be people who are waiting for the right conditions to launch their great idea and that’s what we’re seeing.”

In an effort to encourage businesses to move into the downtown core, Milton added the association has also launched InVest on its website, which includes the listing of all commercial properties for lease/rent or purchase.

According to the site, there are 138 vacant spaces.