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As new construction goes up, dozens of store fronts sit empty in - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

As new construction goes up, dozens of store fronts sit empty in Santa Maria

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While construction of the new Enos Ranch shopping center continues in Santa Maria, dozens of empty commercial spaces are for lease elsewhere in the city.

The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce says there are more than 100 commercial spaces currently empty throughout the city. That includes offices, retail shops and restaurants. At least 17 for lease signs can be found just in the area between McCoy and Main streets along Broadway. 

The city says it's normal, but many residents say they want to see more "open for business" signs popping up.

The chamber says the vacancies could be due in part to high rent. 

"Their rent gets very high at the end of their lease and at that time they have to make the decision if it's worth signing a new lease and paying more or maybe looking to go somewhere else where they can start a lower lease," said Suzanne Singh, Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. 

The chamber says it's the normal progression for business in the city. 

"Landlords, unfortunately, want to raise the rents, and tenants don't want to pay higher rents," Singh said.

"We need to be friendlier towards small business in Santa Maria," said Anne Cremarosa, President and Founder of MIYB California. "I think we have a real problem towards that."

Small businesses say there also isn't enough space in the right zoning areas. 

"We definitely need more non-retail space in Santa Maria. We need more industrial space in Santa Maria. We don't have enough," Cremarosa said.  

The chamber says they are actively looking to find new tenants to come to the city. 

"I don't think hitting high end is where we need to be. It's more of family-friendly environments of retail," Singh said. 

"When there is not availability for office space where you want it, then you push people in offices towards those retail spaces and they are willing to pay a little bit more," Cremarosa said. 

There are about 30 small retail shops in Santa Maria that are vacant, not including an additional 14 spaces at the Santa Maria mall.

As for the old Costco building, the chamber says it may stay empty for a while because Costco is still paying rent. There is a chance a new tenant could fill the vacancy when the lease expires but that's not until about the Spring of 2019. 

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