Not all shopping center tenants survive even without a global pandemic.
Add the coronavirus to the mix, and the future presents hurdles some might not be able to overcome. But local commercial real estate professionals are staying both realistic and optimistic.
“I think there’s the category of folks [tenants and business owners] who were not doing well prior to this for whatever reason. So this is the seminal event; they may not be able to make it through this disruption.
"But even the healthy, good operators, none of them were meant to go without revenue for 30, 60 days,” said Hill Rogers, broker in charge of Cameron Management, which manages midtown commercial center The Pointe at Barclay. “Will there be some attrition? There's going to be some. I don’t know how much.”
Rogers added, “My prediction is also that we get through it, whether it's four weeks or 12 weeks. I think people will want to go back to work; people will want to get out and have human interaction.”
The Pointe at Barclay is a movie theater-anchored shopping and dining complex, at Independence Boulevard and South 17th Street, created by Cameron Properties Land Co. and Collett, a Charlotte retail development firm. Many of its businesses are closed while some of its restaurants have been operating through take-out and delivery only.
Some of them had already shuttered and others had to close temporarily because of an executive order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday.
The order requires a number of business categories, including fitness centers (such as Club Pilates and Orangetheory Fitness at The Pointe), salons (such as Golden Salon & Dry Bar, Waxing the City and Grand Nails Salon at The Pointe) and movie theaters to close as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Cooper had ordered the closure of restaurants and bars to on-premise dining and drinking on March 17.
One of The Pointe's restaurants, Zocalo Street Food & Tequila, announced Monday, "Just like you, we’ve been monitoring the evolution of COVID-19 [and] for the well being of our employees and our restaurant, we have decided to temporarily discontinue our foodservice operations until further notice."
Nori Asian Fusion and Sushi bar announced its temporary closure March 21.
Stone Theatres, owner of The Pointe 14 movie theater at The Pointe at Barclay, closed its facilities temporarily on March 18 as a result of the virus.
The Pointe at Barclay is an example of the kind of retail that's more in demand these days, with the onset of more online shopping and the rethinking of the typical shopping center model. That retail is mainly experiential (gyms, entertainment venues) and service-oriented.
But hopefully, tenants will be able to take advantage of programs put in place as a result of measures being taken to slow the pandemic's growth, brokers said.
“This is not man-made. You want them [commercial tenants] back and successful when this cloud lifts, and you’re going to be there for them because they’ve been there for you, so we work with them,” Rogers said. “We’ve been encouraging all of our folks to follow the stimulus bill closely, that there's going to be resources available to them and some of that in the form of grant money.”
Independence Mall has been operating on reduced hours, from noon to 7 p.m. with only about 11 businesses open, according to the mall’s website as of Wednesday morning.
Brookfield Properties, owner of Independence Mall and a total of 450 million square feet of commercial space worldwide, issued a general statement to investors March 20, saying, “A difficult retail operating environment had already led to a large number of bankruptcies in 2019.
"While we were hopeful that 2020 would see some improvement in this regard, there is no doubt that the impact of closing down large parts of the US economy over the next several weeks is going to have severe consequences for many of our tenants in the absence of government intervention.
“In the long run, the high-quality nature of our assets and the prime locations the centers enjoy give us an advantage and will allow us to recover. But this segment of our business will undoubtedly face a challenging year ahead.”
Mayfaire Town Center canceled or postponed all of its upcoming events and offers information on its website about the coronavirus impact on the center.
“Certain stores and restaurants are following their own corporate or owner guidelines for temporary closures and modified operating hours,” the Mayfaire website states. “Please call ahead to confirm individual retailers’ hours before visiting the center.”
CBL Properties, which owns and manages Mayfaire Town Center, issued a statement this week in response to questions about Mayfaire, stating, “The role we play in our communities as a provider of employment, goods, services and commerce is an important one. Our properties are home to a number of national, regional, and locally owned businesses.
“Given the fluidity of the situation our approach has been to remain as flexible as possible to allow our tenants to make the best decisions for their businesses during this time. As we move forward, it will take all of us working together and communicating regularly.”
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