An empty shopfront at 273 Kent St.
An empty shopfront at 273 Kent St. Alistair Brightman

Highest rate of M'boro CBD vacancies in more than a decade

STRUGGLING shopkeepers in the Maryborough CBD are being urged to hang tight as the precinct battles through its highest rate of vacancies in more than a decade.

A combination of the floods, the retail downturn and the impending federal election are being blamed for the sad state of the CBD, which has an estimated 45 out of 250 properties sitting empty.

Veteran real estate agent Alan Wetton, who manages about 35 of the vacant shops, said the vacancy rate was as high, if not higher, than when Station Square opened with 40 new spaces in 2000, causing a mass exodus.

The owner of VIP Realty said there were many factors behind the situation, including the floods and the upcoming election, but he did not believe the cost of rent was one of them.

"Most landlords will be prepared to meet the market, but some are well-off enough to maintain a certain amount of rent to maintain the value of the property," he said.

The shop at 369 Kent St is for lease.
The shop at 369 Kent St is for lease. Alistair Brightman

"It's a double-edged sword. If a landlord cuts his rent in half that cuts the value of the property in half."

However, Mr Wetton said it was only a matter of time until the CBD picked up again, and he was receiving about six inquiries a week from prospective tenants.

"I have no doubt the part of the problem at the moment is the dummy election campaign," he said.

"Historically, people don't go making decisions before an election."

Matt Mercer of Diimond Realty agreed, saying that there were interested investors around with money but they were hesitant to make a move in such uncertain times.

"The last couple of weeks (in federal politics) is the perfect example," he said.

"Then all over Australia there's big employers putting people off ... the follow-on effect is huge."

Sussans, Specsavers, and Northern Energy were among the businesses that did not reopen in the CBD after the floods earlier this year.

Positive steps

Imagine This City

  • A six-month community consultation process launched by the council in March to develop a plan for the future of the Maryborough CBD. The three-stage consultation process is now at the half-way point

City Heart Art

  • Empty shopfronts transformed into temporary art galleries by the Maryborough Regional Artists and Tutors. Aimed at keeping CBD bright and lively while also promoting local artists

Parklet trials

  • Council approves parklet program after overwhelmingly positive response to the trial from business owners and CBD shoppers


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