MIAMI-The Miami-Dade County retail market has seen “slight improvement” since 2000, according to a new report by Terranova Corp. The Fall 2003 Miami-Dade County Shopping Center Update tracks vacancy rates, rental rates, inventory and other shopping center statistics. The 204 centers surveyed are each more than 50,000 sf, and most are supermarket-anchored.

According to the report, rental rates are on the rise, while vacancy rates are dropping. The county’s retail vacancy rate is 6.93%, compared with 7.65% in 2000. In addition, the North Miami/Beaches submarket reported the lowest vacancy rate, at 3.85%, the highest rate, 12.32%, was in Hialeah.

The average asking net rental rate for retail space in the county was $19.85 per sf, an 8.64% improvement from the $18.27 per sf three years ago. The Homestead/Naranja submarket has the lowest asking net rental rate at $12.53 and the highest rate–$27.51–was seen in South Miami. The original submarkets all have shown increases in rental rates since 2000.

The report also states the county’s ratio of retail sf per person is 12.2-to-1, based on an estimated population of nearly 2.4 million and about 28.7 million sf in total inventory. This ratio compares with the national ratio of 19-to-1. In addition, Four Service Merchandise stores and two Kmart stores closed in the county; however, other regional and national retailers planned expansions offset the closings. Among them: American Signature Gallery, a furniture store that opened in a former Service Merchandise location.

Other expansions include Publix, many of whose shopping centers are sought after by investors, which has been active over the last couple of years opening several stores in the county; the Home Depot which opened a new store this year; and Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse which has plans to enter the Miami-Dade market. Many new shopping centers also opened in recent months. They include: The Village of Merrick Park, an upscale mall in Coral Gables; Plaza Alegre; Keystone Plaza; Lincoln Place; Shoppes of Pinecrest; and Plaza del Paraiso. Still other shopping centers are under construction in the county, including Mary Brickell Village, which will have Publix as an anchor.

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