Empty buildings, lots attract new businesses to the Hub City

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ABERDEEN, S.D. Over the past year, some big stores like Rue 21 and Kmart in Aberdeen have closed their doors for good. Those spots still sit empty while new commercial construction begins around town, which may seem a little odd.

It may seem simple to just throw new businesses in existing empty lots around town, but commercial real estate doesn't follow a perfect rubric to let that happen.

"A lot of it is location driven, a lot of it is needs based. They may have requirements for the building: sprinkler system, overhead doors some sort of ceiling height. It's wildly variable," Dakota Plains Commercial Real Estate Co-Owner Heath Johnson said.

The vacant spots in Aberdeen vary from commercial to industrial to retail.

"That is inventory and that is an economic development opportunity," Johnson said. "I don't look at it as negative at all. I look at that as something that we can use to entice people to come because if someone is looking and we don't have any available space, well to build a new building takes quite a while and they're more likely to move on."

The lots behind the Aberdeen Mall are for sale and there have already been some takers over the past year. The perfect empty lot isn't easy to find around town, though.

"It's been difficult recently and that's why I think you're seeing that take off really quickly over there behind the mall," Johnson said. "There has been some pent-up demand for commercial space, for a new build, new construction to suit specific needs."

Downtown may seem full of empty space on every block, but vacancy is actually at an all-time low. Johnson is worried about running out of spaces to put people in, which is a good problem to have. It's cheaper to lease in the downtown area, which is why there are so many local starter businesses.

"The bigger buildings are actually harder to fill downtown. You struggle with those because the larger users of space are typically going to be your national chains and such and they don't normally go to downtowns," Johnson said.

Those big name stores might be looking for things that the Hub City just can't offer.

"The problem is is those chains are looking for different parameters. They're looking for sizes of towns within a range or they're looking for proximity to interstates for traffic reasons," Johnson said.

It may seem like everything is moving out and nothing is taking its place, but don't worry Aberdeen area residents. There are some exciting things coming into town in the very near future.

Dakota Plains Commercial Real Estate is always happy to help out those local entrepreneurs wanting to bring in new businesses. If you want more information, the link to their website is to the right of the article.