K's Merchandise is closing its doors in a few short weeks.
They are the latest in a chain of retailers, that have left town, leaving vacant big box stores behind, and some to wonder about the viability of the grape road corridor.
“Vacancies in the corridor can have an adverse affect on development in the area,” says Mishawaka Mayor Jeff Rea. “When there's not a tenant there, there’s not somebody there picking the trash up, shoveling the snow or just the general maintenance and upkeep. There’s not an employer there employing local folks.”
Commercial realtors say the reason many businesses coming into town pass up pre-used space is simple…
Why buy used, when you can buy new?
“Retailers like to have stores built the way they want them, as long as the development opportunities are available on main street, that’s where they're going to go,” says Tim Meahll, Vice President of Grubbs and Ellis/Cressy and Everett.
Less than a mile away from Grape Road is a new lifestyle complex.
Realtors say this is the latest trend in retail space. Tim explains that they are, “retailers that are geared more toward people with maybe a higher level of discretionary spending dollars. You'll see them with book stores, you’ll see them with entertainment, you'll see them with entertainment and those types of things.”
While many retailers may opt for new space in lifestyle centers, developers are still hopeful the big boxes that are empty now will eventually fill up. “Quite often there are deals that are going on behind the scenes, and just because no body sees any construction in the space, doesn’t men there isn’t something happening,” Tim adds.
Construction to convert the old Media Play building into a new furniture store, Room Select is now taking place.
Construction began just a few months ago, but the deal was on the table before Media Play left.
Realtors and city officials are sure retail space in Mishawaka will not go unused for long.
City officials tell us there are already some proposals for the K's Merchandise space.
Right now, the old Office Depot, Kids R Us and Martins on Mckinley remain empty.