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Downtown Boise’s retail vacancy hits all-time record low

ICCU: Business Unusual

There aren’t many spaces to put a new retail outlet in the Downtown Boise core. In fact, according to tracking by Boise commercial real estate firm Thornton Oliver Keller, it’s never been tighter.

“Downtown Boise’s overall retail vacancy ended May at 3.7% – the lowest rate on record,” TOK wrote in a research note earlier this month. “Currently, the submarket sits with less than 34,000 SF of vacant space – smaller than the size of one big-box space.”

Downtown Boise Associate Executive Director Lynn Hightower said the addition of new residential downtown is one factor in the retail boom. But she says the whole ecosystem is thriving.

“The energy in downtown Boise today is attractive, productive and inspiring, and the success of creating a place people want to be has grown to such a pace it’s feeding and building on itself, and businesses large and small are benefitting,” Hightower said.

She said efforts to design downtown with clean and walkable public spaces leads to success. She said the growing sense of community in the downtown area helps bring more success.

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Future of Downtown

“With the diversity of retail, entertainment, and arts & culture, whether you visit, work or live downtown, you feel you’re part of this vibrant, welcoming community of people who enjoy being here. It’s a place people who live here can be proud, a place people want to keep coming back to, and a place people feel they’re welcomed.”

TOK tracks retail space in more than 50 buildings in the downtown area, with a total of 919,000 square feet of leasable space. The firm’s definition of downtown also includes much of the North End.

Overall, TOK puts the vacancy rate in Ada County at 7%. The vacancy rate in Canyon County stands at 14.3%.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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