Shopping centers in Parkland begin to thrive

New homes are being constructed in Parkland, and shopping centers in the city, which had high vacancy rates not so long ago, have started filling up.

All five of the commercial centers in the city, except one, are either fully occupied or close to full occupancy. While the Shoppes of Parkland is fully occupied, Parkland Commons has an occupancy rate of 97 percent, while Parkland Town Center and Riverstone Shoppes are at 96 percent and 95 percent, respectively. Waterways Shoppes has a vacancy rate of 16 percent.

“That is a dramatic increase over the last few years,” Scott Davidoff, the city’s public information officer, told city officials at a recent meeting. “Some of the centers have been down in the low 70s, some in the 60s, just two to three years ago.”

The city attributes the high occupancy rates to measures it has introduced in the last few years to attract and retain businesses. “We have been working with the commercial centers to build a relationship,” Davidoff said. “The sign code was amended in January last year; that was something that the centers were pushing hard for. We created a new economic development web page with information about the centers.”

Another initiative is the business ambassador program by which new businesses are provided a single point of contact so that process is expedited. The city also waives the special event permit for grand openings. It also updates the business directory on a monthly basis and sends out welcome letters to new businesses.

City staff meets with owners of the commercial centers on a quarterly basis. Mayor Michael Udine and Vice Mayor Stacy Kagan wanted the city to invite tenants as well to one of the meetings.

City Manager Caryn Gardner-Young said that staff was in touch with tenants. “Two times a year, we go door to door,” she said. “I go door to door once a year. I talk about the programs we have and make sure we have a relationship with the tenants.”

“I want to make sure that we are not getting in, any way as a city, in the process of picking any businesses that are going in,” said Udine. “That is not really our role. What we want to do is expedite the process for all.”

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

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