Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Fry Street lot in Denton remains untouched by developer
One shop owner says it's practically impossible to have small retail stores come back to Fry Street because of the high rent.
Every day, Denton residents walk down Fry Street and see bars, fast food venues and empty lots. For now and the near future, those lots will remain vacant.
Other than the newly established Public House at 125 Ave. A, development on Fry Street is at a standstill.
In 2008, a drive-thru CVS Pharmacy was proposed for the space.
However, the city council did not approve a special-use permit required for the drive-thru because of community disapproval, said Linda Ratliff, the director of economic development for Denton.
“There was a lot of community input to the council of not wanting to drive through there and it not being safe,” Ratliff said.
The property The Tomato occupied is owned by United Equities.
United Equities is a real-estate, development and leasing firm that owns at least 300 million square feet of property in Texas. The properties are offices, office warehouses and retail shopping centers, said Tim Sandifer of the acquisitions, development and retail leasing departments at United Equities.
Sandifer said CVS pulled out of the development deal because it requires all of its stores to have a drive-thru pharmacy.
To make its money, Sandifer said Equities leases out the square footage it owns.
“We had a development that we thought would be in demand,” he said. “It’s all contingent on having leases with tenants.”
Sandifer said that leasers are more cautious now and not expanding as aggressively as they had.
“It’s just not the right climate,” he said.
Sandifer said he would love to see people start leasing more on Fry Street to accommodate an ever-expanding student population.
Mike Sutton, owner of Big Mike’s Coffee House at 1306 W. Hickory St., said he’d like to see more student-friendly social places developed and fewer fast food places.
“I’d like to see a lot more independents come back down to Fry Street and get the air revitalized,” Sutton said. “You don’t see it happening because the landlord down here wants a lot of money for the rent.”
Because of rent prices, Sutton said he feels it is practically impossible to have small retail stores come back to Fry Street.
“They would just have to have so much money,” he said.
Sutton said he hopes to have his coffee shop open in several weeks.
Rick Reid, owner of the Garage, said he has not heard of any businesses moving onto vacant properties.
“I know with the way the economy is right now, it’s not going to happen anytime soon,” he said. “I mean nobody is going to loan for something like that. I don’t see anybody with the next three to five years getting what they want done.”
Ideally, Reid said he would like to see more city support for the area.
“We’ve got all these establishments, and look at the street,” he said. “They don’t run a street sweeper down here. The only thing they can consistently do is write tickets. We have a dumpster that doesn’t get emptied enough. We’ve got all these great establishments down here, but no support.”
Two UNT students, who also live in Denton said they like Fry Street just the way it is.
“I don’t really think it needs to be developed as much as most people think,” Garrett Benson, a marketing senior, said. “It serves its purpose.”
Marlene Zamora, a marketing senior, agreed with Benson and said more development might cause unnecessary traffic on Hickory Street.
Pegasus News Content partner - North Texas Daily
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