Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Speculative Commercial Lease Space vs The City's Mandate To Prepay All Retail Fuel Purchases

The pictures sum it up, in my view:
  • I was amazed when I first saw them, and I remain so today:I am speaking, of course, about the legal notices on gas pumps all around town noting that our City Council has seen fit to mandate that a crime shall have been committed if a retail clerk should dispense gas without first requiring the consumer to have prepaid for the fuel. In other words, if someone drives off without first paying for the gas, the clerk certainly shouldn't call the police, because they'll bust the clerk instead of (perhaps in addition to) trying to find the bad guys! An amazing approach to solving a problem that is, hopefully, tapering off as a result of the decline in fuel prices.

    As a banker perhaps I should hope that the Council will one day make it criminal offense to fail to pay your bank loans. But, perhaps more likely, they'll put in place an ordinance making bank tellers liable for "allowing" bank robbers to take the Bank's money.
  • As long as the Council is taking care of the problem of scumbags not paying for gas by holding store clerks responsible, perhaps they should invoke some rulemaking around the issue of speculative commercial development in the City. There are many examples that could be cited, but the ones that stand out to me follow:

    • The first is the strip center that sits on the south side of Sandy Lake just west of the Exxon station across from the old Albertson's. The sole occupant at this point (and for more than a year, if I recall correctly) is a nail salon (there seems to be some finish out work in some of the space, so maybe new tenants are on the way).
    • The next is the beautiful space on MacArthur Boulevard south of the SH 121 intersection, on the east side. That space has been completed for some time now, but appears to have no tenants.

    • Another that comes to mind (but that seems to be gaining some momentum at present) is the retail center on the southeast corner of Denton Tap and SH 121 where Run-On was, for the longest time, the sole tenant. They've recently been joined by a paint store and at least one other entity, but progress has been exceedingly low.

    • A project that has been under construction for some time that may, or may not, experience some level of difficulty in attaining acceptable occupancy is also sited on Sandy Lake Road, also on the south side, this time just east of the large retail center where Minyard's was once located. The site has had a "development is coming" sign for a very long period, and is now framed up and likely to be completed in a few weeks. I certainly hope that tenants are already signed-up and ready to move in, as we don't need yet another empty project on one of our main thoroughfares, but because the sign in front says "available", I don't take that as a the most likely outcome.

    • Finally, while the arrival a few years ago of the Universal Academy was a great enhancement, the development of what was to have been a grocery store (Safeway?) more than ten years ago at the southeast corner of MacArthur and Sandy Lake remains, in my mind, the crowning example of the type of challenges about which I am writing today. I certainly don't know the circumstances around the center, its ownership or management, but I am acutely aware of the missed opportunities for the City (retail taxes), the owner and for each of us as residents in the under utilization of that site for so long. I can only hope that circumstances will change for the better very soon.

    I am, of course, taking a somewhat tongue-in-cheek approach in bringing this topic up, but it would be beneficial to our great City as well as the real estate investors that are developing these various tracts to do more upfront homework to better assure that the projects attain an acceptable level of occupancy much more rapidly than the examples above. Empty space does little to enhance our tax base, and it creates a very negative community image as others experience Coppell. "For Lease" signs in windows do not inspire confidence in the City or in its leaders.

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