Vermont Retail Market

Jeff Nick
NAI/J.L. Davis Realty

As the economy strengthens, development is moving forward with new leasing opportunities in the Vermont retail market. In the central business district of Burlington, Vermont, the retail sector remains vibrant and the Burlington Town Center continues to thrive. The Church Street Marketplace offers an exciting retail environment attractive to both national and local retailers.

Additionally, the suburban markets continue to grow around big box development as towns are attracting national retailers as well as local merchants. Town and city planners strive to create outdoor shopping malls including cinemas, restaurants and smaller boutique stores surrounding tenants such as Wal-Mart, Circuit City, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Currently, the overall vacancy rate for the Vermont retail market stands at 6.5 percent.

Several major developments currently are impacting the landscape of Vermont retail. In Williston, Vermont, Taft Corners Park and Maple Tree Place continue to attract big box retailers, recently adding Marshalls, Christmas Tree Shops and Men's Wearhouse. South Burlington's 600,000-square-foot University Mall is undergoing a major renovation, and it continues to attract tourists, college students and Chittenden County, Vermont, residents. Current tenants include Kohl's, Sears and Gap. In addition, the Church Street Marketplace offers a dynamic environment, including tenants such as Borders Books and Music, Old Navy, Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer and Aveda.

Furthermore, the development of the Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse in South Burlington has had a significant impact on the Vermont retail market. If approved and successful, the 121,000-square-foot Lowe's store, coupled with the probable development of the 40,000-square-foot box store at Taft Corners Park, will make up the majority of the retail growth rate in 2005.

As the big box stores are attracting destination shoppers, the suburban markets are seeing the majority of retail development. Smaller spaces from 1,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet are leasing to support the big box stores as local and national retailers are taking advantage of the high traffic counts and cluster-style development. In general, most of the suburban retail development is centered on the Taft Corners area in Williston.

At Maple Tree Place in Williston, Christmas Tree Shops signed a 45,000-square-foot lease, and 14,000 square feet of additional, smaller retail spaces also has been constructed. At the University Mall, Kohl's recently occupied an anchor space, and at Church Street Marketplace, Aveda signed a lease for 3,300 square feet at $35 per square foot. Additionally, the successful renovation and re-leasing of the Burlington Town Center occupies more than 140,000 square feet at the Church Street Marketplace.

In the future, the City Center project in South Burlington is planned opposite the University Mall near exit 14 off Interstate 89. This project will form the nucleus of downtown development by including the potential of more than 250,000 square feet of retail space.

— Jeff Nick is the president of NAI/J.L. Davis Realty.

©2005 France Publications, Inc. Duplication or reproduction of this article not permitted without authorization from France Publications, Inc. For information on reprints of this article contact Barbara Sherer at (630) 554-6054.

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