Yesterday GM published his initial top level numbers of his retail survey of Georgetown. One of the numbers that really jumped out was the vacancy number.
The total was 169. This was way above the recent tallies of vacancies for the neighborhood. But it occurred to GM that he may be over-counting that number a bit. That’s because over the years as he’s built up his database, he’s included some spaces that formerly contained a retail use but no longer do. This could be as simple as a space being converted to residential or office use (which GM doesn’t count as a retail use). Also, some “vacancies” were spaces like the old Smith and Hawken, which became the second floor of the Brooks Brothers. That should never really have been included as a vacancy. Other spaces were simply lost to time and GM can’t even figure out what address he was even talking about or they were torn down, like La Madeleine.
So GM went through the database again and removed any spaces like this from the vacancy group and put them into a nebulous “converted” category. That will simply act as a placeholder so that GM can keep a historic record of the changes.
So with all that, the new vacancy total is…118. It’s still way higher than previous years, even without GM stripping the “converted” spaces from them (which he probably won’t bother to do as it would be a huge hassle to figure out when they “converted”).
So comparing across years will be difficult (except going forward) but it is possible to come up with a vacancy rate now that is more accurate. The vacancy rate that GM comes up with is 20.6%, which is pretty high! This is not far off from an industry figure that pegs it at 17.5% as of last fall.
Anyway, GM is still compiling all the data and will give a final report later this week.