Two of the stores I like to browse in downtown have closed - Nood and Muffet and Louisa. I like to cook and therefore like cool kitchen things. In the case of Nood, their prices were very good. We bought all 10 of our dining room chairs there for what it would have cost us for 2 almost anywhere else.
The closure of these two stores means that there are very limited reasons for me to go to downtown for shopping. Given where I am at in my life, downtown is not really a place that has many of the stores I need. With four boys I spend a lot of money at Costco, we have to buy about 6 litres of milk a day.
I have been noticing how many retail store fronts in downtown are empty now. I have no way to measure this other than what I can remember, but I can not think of a time recently when so many of they have been closed. It makes certain stretches of the streets downtown feel dead and depressing. What would inspire someone to want to open a retail store in those sort of places?
I do not get a sense that the retail lease rates are going down in downtown which is what I assume would happen if there was an excess of supply when compared to demand.
I would like to see a more vibrant downtown but I have no good idea how to make that happen. When I think about it what comes to my mind is the huge disconnections of Old Town from the areas around it. Almost all the 'edges' of Old Town are very bad transitions. Maybe of there was some better connections or integration between Old Town and other areas the malaise in downtown would lessen?
My hope is that the new Johnson Street Bridge and the Northern Junk proposal by Reliance Properties will give a strong positive anchor to the north west corner of the downtown. Right now you have lower Johnson Street that is funky and interesting but it goes nowhere, there is no connectivity on the western end at all. I think the proposed development and the new bridge could very well fix that. This may then bring back life to the Market Square area. I think one thing that would be helpful in the new development would be public parking. More public parking in Old Town would help bring it more retail life.