“Cost, Cost, Cost” Replaces “Location, Location, Location”

"For Lease" signs become sign of the times

The ubiquitous "For Lease" signs that can be seen dominating the window space of brand new strip centers across North Texas are a clear indication that the economic downturn has hit the commercial real estate market.

Some real estate agents say the mantra "location, location, location" has been replaced with "cost, cost, cost," as potential new business owners are more concerned with how pricey their monthly rent payments may be.

Johnnie Bryant, the owner of Cookies in Bloom in Grapevine, said she is feeling the pinch as customers cut back. 

"We're hoping we can make it work" she said as she filled an order for a single chocolate-chip cookie for a first-time walk-in customer.

"It's slow, I think any retailer will tell you that it's slow right now," Bryant said.

Business it so slow that Bryant recently had trouble making the rent. She said her landlord, Gary Cantrell, was understanding of the situation.

"Gary was very, very helpful because I just couldn't pay all the rent this month, and he let me put it into two payments," Bryant said.

Cantrell said it's only smart business to do all he can to help his tenants in need.

"The worst thing that can happen is (for) Johnnie (to) go out of business, and I have to put a for lease sign on that space," he said.

At a brand-new strip center called 925 Main Street in Grapevine "for lease" signs dominate the window space.

"It's a little bit harder than it has been," said Dan Gregg, of Henry S. Miller.

Gregg said five years ago new business owners would have been lined up to lease every inch of empty space on the prime piece of real estate.

"People are looking for downsizing," he said. "So it may have been 3,000 square feet they were looking for last year; maybe now it's 2,500 square feet."

Gregg said he believes potential new business owners appear to be waiting to see what President Barack Obama's economic stimulus program will produce.

Gregg also said he sees signs that the economy is turning around, pointing out that it has never been as bad in North Texas as it is in other parts of the country. 

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