What is with all the empty storefronts in Essex?

Miranda Monahan
By Miranda Monahan October 20, 2017 13:28
 A woman walks in front of an empty storefront on Talbot Street North on Oct. 14, 2017. Photo by Miranda Monahan

A woman walks in front of an empty storefront on Talbot Street North. Photo by Miranda Monahan.

By Miranda Monahan

The town of Essex used to have many thriving businesses.

Now, it seems things have changed. When walking or driving through downtown Essex, it is not uncommon to see empty storefronts. Some of these buildings are boarded up or display realtor signs.

It may seem that there are many empty storefronts, but there are really only 20 vacant storefronts out of 163 total storefronts. According to Nelson Silveira, development officer for the Town of Essex, empty storefronts are more beneficial than one might think. 

“Downtowns need vacancies in order to attract new business. Without some empty buildings in the downtown we would be unable to accommodate new business or businesses that are looking to relocate to the downtown,” said Silveira.

A Community Improvement Plan has been put in place to attract more businesses to the downtown area. This includes grants and other services for business owners. This improvement plan has resulted in an increase in businesses taking advantage of this program in recent years.

“This program offers grants of up to $12,000 for 50 per cent of a facade improvement which includes new paint, signage, brickwork, light fixtures and other types of incentives for business to improve the outside of their business,” said Silveira. “The program has seen an increase of over $100,000 in 2017 as compared to 2016 and is continuing to grow with new grant programs like our mini-grant which is a $2,000 non-repayable grant for a quick facade improvement that includes paint and signage.”

The response to the empty storefronts is not always positive. Some residents of Essex think that there are too many empty storefronts. Sandra Lypps, 46,  a long time Essex resident, thinks the empty storefronts could hurt the town’s image.

“I think that there are too many of them and that the town needs to do more to get the spaces leased or sold. Businesses close too early in Essex so if you work during the day there isn’t much opportunity to visit the businesses that are in town,” said Lypps. “It’s not good for the town’s image to have so many vacancies. It makes it look like the town is up for sale or a ghost town.”

Other residents, like Hannah Maedel, 15,  think Essex needs more attractions to draw people in. She believes residents may want to go elsewhere for entertainment.

“I think the storefronts are empty because there are no big attractions, so not many people will be around Essex,” said Maedel.

Some storefronts seem to be occupied and then close again. The Golden Roll is a good example of this. The Golden Roll was a thriving restaurant when it suddenly closed, and then opened as a new restaurant. Shortly after, it closed again.

The residents of Essex hope the empty storefronts will soon be filled with new businesses.   

Miranda Monahan
By Miranda Monahan October 20, 2017 13:28

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