Downtown Palo Alto slips?

| August 6, 2009 | 0 Comments


I’m not an expert on the retail markets by any stretch, but this Article about downtown Palo Alto did get my attention.

I’m more than a little skeptical about how effectively the City can measure vacancy– Colliers and all of our major competitors put a lot of resources into accurately tracking the market, and generating quality data is more complex than one might think. In addition, Palo Alto’s downtown corridor is small enough that a few major vacancies–like the ones cited in the article– could skew the numbers more than a little.

That said, there’s ample reason for the City to consider revamping the office use guidelines for the downtown corridor. University Avenue has more competition for weekend diners and shoppers then it used to from nearby downtowns on the upswing like Redwood City and Mtn View, not to mention more distant Santana Row. A strategy to bring more daytime customers in the form of office employees to Palo Alto could benefit the retail base. Additionally, the streets that parallel University– Lytton and Hamilton– really arent heavily trafficked by shoppers.  Additional ground floor office users there would have little impact, I think, on the vibrancy of downtown.

Finally, the demand for additional office space is there. Even in this down market, availabilities for small office space in downtown Palo Alto remain skinny. When the local market regains its footing, downtown Palo Alto will be among the first places to see a spike in demand. Accomodating new start-ups within the University Ave corridor would seem to be in Palo Alto’s best interest.

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