Retail retraction: As woes mount, available space has nearly doubled in the last decade
April 11, 2017

It’s part of an alarming trend for the retail real estate sector, particularly those buying, selling or marketing properties with big box parcels.

The vacancy rate for retail centers in the St. Louis region with at least 50,000 square feet of leasable space — typically the smallest of the big box chains — is at its highest level (13.2 percent) in more than a decade, according to data from CoStar. At the end of the first quarter, more than 3.5 million square feet was vacant here, with another 1.3 million square feet considered available ­— space that is leased but being actively marketed for future tenants.

A decade ago, just 2.6 million square feet was considered vacant with just an additional 100,000 square feet deemed available.

Location, location, location

Nearly 200 properties across the St. Louis region have parcels with at least one 50,000-square-foot-or-more parcel in it.

Not all are valued equally.

“Good real estate is good real estate,” said Mark Kornfeld, managing director of retail services for Sansone Group, which in 2016 closed on $120 million in acquisitions, mostly in grocery-anchored retail centers. “Big box spaces that are going to come online and sit in good shopping centers that are busy won’t have a problem getting backfilled. (Vacancies) definitely expose some poor locations because there aren’t many big box retailers looking for space in the current climate we’re in.”

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