The development of Westgate has led Miranda Johnson, owner of Papaya Island, to wonder if area commercial property owners have taken the opportunity to raise rates excessively. Tenants who decide to return after Costco opens face potentially high rent, as much as twice the current rate.
”We don’t know how much rent is going to be. I’m expecting it to be at least double,” Johnson said. ”We’ve told Westgate we’re interested in coming back when they rebuild, because we do expect a lot of people, but you know money talks, and it really depends on how much it costs.”
She’s priced area property and cited an average of about $14 per square foot. At locations across from Westgate, she said she looked at rates of about $16 to $18 plus common area maintenance fees of $3.50 per square foot.
”If I wanted to rent a 1,000- or 1,200-square-foot store over there, it was going to cost me well over $2,000 a month, which to Costco or Stein Mart or McDonalds that’s not a lot of money, but to mom and pop it is. I’d be paying a whole lot more for a whole lot less space than I have now,” she said.
Current demands don’t necessarily justify higher rents, according to Johnson, because of the abundance of suitable locations throughout the area. Certain features affect price as well, such as convenient parking, road access and security. However, she said none of the current available sites compare dollar-for-dollar to Westgate.
”There are just tons and tons of small shopping centers around Toledo. I can’t believe they’re building them all over, then they wonder why they’re half empty,” Johnson said.
Glenn Fitkin, owner of Cricket West, said his rents have remained the same since raising them ”a little bit” about six months ago. He thinks a rise in demand may spur an increase in the next two or three years. While rents are lower along parts of Sylvania Avenue about a half-mile north, he said his are still below those at Westgate because of the smaller shops he has as tenants.