Photo cred - Martin Tremblay
If you've walked along St-Laurent recently you've probably noticed an unusually high amount of closed businesses. You can tell because they've been promptly spray painted by taggers who do not fear repercussions from the owners because, there are no owners.
According to La Presse, throughout the entire boulevard more than 160 storefronts are vacant, most of them being ground floor businesses. Between Sherbrooke and Mount-Royal alone, the busiest section of the boulevard, 47 storefronts remain unoccupied.
According to real estate brokers, there is no interest in the area. This is disturbing because it's supposed to be one the busiest areas in the city, when you think of an area like St-Laurent Boulevard, you imagine a massive lineup of businesses fighting over each other to open a store front there. And yet in the area of little Italy where there are about 110 commercial locations, 10 remain unoccupied and real estate brokers predict that only 4 will rented out by the summer (if they're lucky). Adding to the problem are the old businesses who are disappearing because they aren't adapting to today's consumer needs as well as the waves of taggers who cover the empty store front with graffiti which makes the area seem even more abandoned and undesirable.
Still it seems some owners aren't worried and think the trouble is only temporary. Bruce Burnett who owns a number of store fronts says he's fully booked since the start of February and the restaurant Aux Vivres has recently doubled in size.
So maybe things aren't as bad as they seem, the Société de Développement du Boulevard Saint-Laurent (Society for the development of St-Laurent boulevard) claims that La Presse did not include in their calculations the number of closed store front that are still technically occupied or still under lease (but being kept closed until the market picks up so they can charge a higher rent), the buildings being renovated which will eventually be occupied, as well as the businesses that are in the process of being rented. They claim that when you factor this in, the level of occupation is actually better than it was in 2012.