Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Highway Retail Space in a Steady Rebound

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Highway Retail Space in a Steady Rebound

Article excerpt

An improving economy, and continued demand for North Jersey retail property, has helped fill recently empty stores along shopping highways, pushing the vacancy rate down to 7.3 percent this fall, according to an annual vacancy survey by R.J. Brunelli & Co.

The Old Bridge-based real estate firm said in its 24th annual survey that the rate along the six major shopping highways in North Jersey has declined from 8.1 percent a year ago. The rate remains much higher than the rate of 2 percent to 4 percent in the region during the peak years from 1999 to 2008.

The North Jersey rate remains close to the national average of about 7 percent, as measured by national real estate firm Marcus & Millichap. It expects the national rate to decline to 6.5 percent by the end of the year.

The leasing market for retail spaces in North Jersey is significantly better this year and is expected to continue improving, Ron DeLuca, a partner at Brunelli, said in a telephone interview. Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic counties are expected to remain attractive to retailers, he said.

"They want to be where the population density is, especially where there is high daytime population." DeLuca said. "Northern New Jersey has an excellent pull."

Vacancy rates were lower on all of the highways except for Route 4, according to the survey. The vacancy rate on Route 4 climbed to 7.8 percent from 5.4 percent a year ago. The increase was driven by the closing of a 15,000-square-foot Famous Footwear shoe store on Route 4 and several smaller stores.

Richard J. Brunelli, president of the firm, said that while vacancy rates are still higher than the rates from 1999 to 2008, the survey shows an improving market. "The region is clearly battling back from the impact of the spate of retailer bankruptcies and downsizings that drove big-box closures between 2009 and 2012," Brunelli said in a statement.

A survey released in September by the Paramus-based retail real estate brokerage Goldstein Group found similar declines in retail vacancies. That survey, which includes 22 retail highways in North and Central New Jersey, calculated the vacancy rate for those highways at 6. …

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