MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — You’ve probably seen the eyesores and vacancies in your own neighborhoods. For years, small suburban villages have struggled to fill empty storefronts in the age of online shopping.
But as CBS2’s Christina Fan reported Monday, some downtowns are seeing a turnaround.
From the biggest of cities to the smallest of villages, it’s hard to stroll down main street anywhere without seeing shuttered storefronts.
“Some of them have just given up the struggle of being retail in an online age,” said Leah Caro, president of the Bronxville Chamber of Commerce..
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“It’s seductive to do everything online, and easy,” Bronxville resident Patty Warble said.
But in Westchester County, while it might look bad to the naked eye, officials say life is slowly coming back.
“Just across the street from here, where we currently have Party City and Modell’s, that building was vacant for six years,” Mount Kisco Mayor Gina Picinich said.
Just three years ago, there were more than 24 vacant stores in Mount Kisco. That number is now down to 10. Picinich said the village had to get creative in its thinking. Leaders have drastically reduced the amount of time businesses need to get paperwork approved and re-evaluated zoning.
“If a business sees a space that they are interested in, on the upfront we offer a no-cost consultation with our planner and building inspector,” Picinich said.
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Experts say some villages have success turning things around by attracting businesses that offer experiences rather than just merchandise.
“There’s more gyms. There’s learning centers. More things that you could find tucked away on a second floor are now taking up storefronts,” Caro said.
Real estate experts say people are social creatures who want more than what is offered on the internet. They say small, quaint municipalities are benefiting from that online fatigue.
Experts say another key to a thriving downtown is to have a balance of businesses, including fitness, food, and boutiques.