Building vacancies can stay open, go quick

Spaces in Dinkytown are hard to come by, as many businesses want to set up there.

Kelly Gulbrandson

When campus businesses suddenly disappear, the empty spaces they leave behind affect both neighborhood residents and business operations.

Nancy Rose-Pribyl, president of the Stadium Village Commercial Association, said there is a sense of loss when a building is vacant, but there is also “the promise of what is coming.”

Computer engineering first-year Mike von Fange said he hasn’t noticed a lot of vacancies on campus, but would like to see a greater variety of restaurants and more retail stores in the vacant areas.

If a space is vacant, it makes the area look “ghetto-ish,” Fange said.

Although there are a few Stadium Village vacancies, such as the sites of the former Enrica Fish Medical Bookstore and Manhattan Loft, both on Washington Avenue, Rose-Pribyl said it’s not evidence of urban decay.

However, many vacancies occur because it can be difficult keeping a business open in an area where the majority of the residents are around for only nine months of the year, Rose-Pribyl said.

“There is no guarantee for businesses staying around,” she said.

When a building becomes vacant, Rose-Pribyl said she discovers it by “word of mouth,” but doesn’t receive official notification.

The amount of time a space remains vacant depends on who owns the building, since most are rental properties, she said. Rental rates for the building are another factor that can determine how long a building is vacant.

According to the City of Minneapolis’ Web site, if a vacant property is not secure or considered a danger to the neighborhood, or the property continues to remain empty, it can be boarded for up to 60 days. If it’s boarded for more than 60 days, it will need an inspection to reopen.

Even with the vacancies in the neighborhood, Rose-Pribyl said she has heard from other universities that Stadium Village is used as a model of a successful business area.

The vacancy situation in the Dinkytown neighborhood, however, is somewhat different.

Skott Johnson, president of the Dinkytown Business Association said places do go out of business, but the spaces fill up fast.

“Once there is a vacancy, people jump on it right away,” he said.

Support among businesses in the neighborhood, the heavy traffic through the area and the neighborhood’s reputation are a few reasons Johnson said there are currently no Dinkytown vacancies.

Businesses call on a daily basis looking for a space in Dinkytown, he said.

Bruce Bahneman, a real estate agent for Master Properties, which rents out a space at 801 Fourth St. S.E., said although the space has been vacant for two weeks, he has received calls from interested tenants every day.

A high-end candy store, a fast-food restaurant and a dry cleaner are a few of the negotiations Bahneman said he is involved with currently.

“Because of the proximity to campus, it’s critically important that whatever (the business) is, it’s a certain demographic that the store is trying to get,” he said.

No one can predict business’ futures, Rose-Pribyl said, but they can evaluate their successes over a long period.

“Business ebbs and flows,” she said.