PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — You can find vacant or for lease signs in dozens of store windows throughout Palm Beach Gardens. However, Kelly Smallridge, President and CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County says it’s nothing to be worried about.
While big box companies are consolidating and closing storefronts, other businesses are moving in just as rapidly.
“We need to understand that today retail is a different model, and we are not concerned about Palm Beach Gardens and the ability to bring traction to those areas,” said Smallridge.
Just off Northlake Boulevard, the former Gander Mountain site is now becoming “At Home Furniture” and just a little east of there, Costco is finalizing plans with the city of Palm Beach Gardens to build a gas station where Sports Authority once sat.
“It’s a sign of the times and those opportunities allow us to sort of rethink and re-purpose,” said Smallridge.
However, in shopping centers like Downtown at the Gardens and Legacy Place there are several spaces available for lease.
After eight years in the same spot, Menchies recently posted that it is permanently closed. However, the paper in the window doesn’t list why.
Just down the plaza, Bamboo Clothiers is still going strong after 19 years in PGA Commons. While online retailers definitely provide tough competition, the store owner, Ruth Guerra, says she’s found a way to keep a loyal customer base.
“We change the store, we change the store decor, we update it constantly,” said Guerra.
The store gets new shipments, almost daily, to meet customer demands.
“We would lose something if we were to move,” said Guerra.
The majority of stores that have closed in Palm Beach Gardens in the last five to 10 years are big box companies, not just leaving South Florida, but closing multiple stores at once nationwide.
A spokesperson for the City of Palm Beach Gardens says they offer expedited permitting for businesses interested in the area and feel they are extremely business friendly.
The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County says Palm Beach Gardens has done a great job at attracting science and technology companies to the area in recent years.
“So north county and Palm Beach Gardens specifically is really home to the most innovative, technologically savvy companies in Palm Beach County,” said Smallridge.
A city of Palm Beach Gardens spokesperson said the developers of Downtown at the Gardens are working to revitalize its space and has plans to bring in a hotel and Lifetime Fitness.
“While there may be some vacancies in some of the retail components, it’s not of really great concern to us because we know in time as these companies ramp up with their employees they will start to frequent the restaurants and the retail establishments,” said Smallridge.