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Perhaps We Should Consider the Vacancy Rates, Needs and Wants of the Public When Assessing Development Possibilities?

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Development is a major component of regional growth, enabling a community to modernize by building better infrastructure to attract new business and investors, thus increasing the tax base.   However, its also important to know how the vacancy rate of commercial properties fits into the equation.  New property is going to be less desirable if it’s surrounded by a whole host of vacant buildings.  Long range planning of future development is contingent upon balancing these concerns and making sure that existing properties get filled while a proper amount of new development springs up to enhance and support the existing inventory.

Unfortunately, Putnam County doesn’t track its vacancy rate.  Usually this sort of data is used to keep track of significantly larger markets.  New York City, for example, lists its 2nd Quarter 2012 office vacancy rate at 7.1%, while retail comes in at 2.2%.  In Albany the numbers were 15.2% and 8.9%, respectively, and for Westchester, 18.0% and 8.2% (source:  www.reisreports.com).   In assessing the future of our county, and in determining what industries to attract to Putnam, it would seem valuable to have access to this same data.   That way we can address potential concerns and factor the empty properties into plans for development and growth.

The Putnam County Chambers of Commerce is conducting a survey to help determine needs and wants for building sustainable industry clusters in our communities – available at putnamchamberny.org/public-survey.html or putnamchamberny.org/business-owner-survey.html .  Ideally, new businesses will fill vacant buildings first and then move into newly-developed space; of course in reality there will be a combination of both.   The end result will be an improvement in the economic conditions of our county, one way or another.  As we utilize tools such as the survey and other available data, we are gathering vital data to help facilitate coordinated planning for our future.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, Putnam County Chambers of Commerce