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Letters to the editor, February 5, 2015

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

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Back to Barrington

Mimi Fautley nailed it last week ("Why does Barrington Street remain barren?" Voice of The City). Renting to national/international chains does not guarantee payment of rent. Just ask all the mall owners across Canada who leased space to Target. —posted at thecoast.ca by joeblow

Spot on. Why won't the market adjust itself to fill vacancies? I would show up to hear our downtown planners and developers answer this question. Maybe the next Kate Carmichael Lecture should address this. posted by EricaB

In the end it's their property. If they want to try to rent it at exorbitant rents, that's their right. Seems foolish to me, but the cost to carry these buildings could be very high in terms of energy use, etc.

Are you suggesting "just rent it a low cost because retailers can't afford it?" Sorry, that's not how it works. It may be easier/cheaper to keep it vacant, however that looks to people driving by, than to have a tenant in there not covering the rent. —posted by Trevor Curwin

I would love to see the mayor step in on this. Hundreds of thousands of cruise ship tourists come through our city every summer, and other than the waterfront boardwalk, they rarely go anywhere other than Barrington Street (and Fairview Cemetery for the Titanic connection). If this is all they're seeing, they're not coming back. It's good for the whole city to get Barrington back on track. —posted by Sarah Kate Marsh

The fact that Barrington is full of little mom-and-pop shops and the like is because the economic situation was so poor throughout the '80s to the early 2000s, and downtown was in such rough shape. Nowadays we have retailers like Urban Outfitters and Frank & Oak setting up; major residential projects coming online; plus a generally renewed interest in downtown.

It's pretty obvious that we're in an in-between phase—the old, rundown Barrington, and a new, more high-end Barrington—and some property owners are probably biding their time, counting on being able to attract more international or high-end tenants over the next couple of years, after some of the construction is done. Small, quirky little shops will still find a home on streets like Argyle, Blowers and Grafton, or in the north end and Dartmouth. But the future of Barrington looks increasingly to be major chains and high-end indie boutiques.

Honestly, that's OK—that's sort of the role of a city's main downtown thoroughfare, historically speaking. That's what Barrington would be now if major retailers hadn't all set up in suburban malls since the '70s. It's a tough time because it's transitional, but I think it's increasingly obvious that Barrington is going to come out the other end of this construction and upheaval over the next 24-to-48 months much stronger than it's been in decades. —posted by pigeon

Perhaps if the city hadn't scuttled the Skye Halifax development, and the thousands of new people it would have brought to the neighbourhood, businesses would have new customers next door to help offset the "skye high" rents. —posted by Michael Murphy

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