Pressure is growing on the owners of shopping center, the only commercial space permitted on Bay Farm Island, to stem the tide of storefront vacancies.
Of the center's 115,979 square feet of commercial space, 12,319 are vacant in six spaces, according to the real estate broker, James Liu, who posted details on Loopnet, a real estate website.
But the proportion of storefronts that are vacant may be larger than the proportion of vacant square footage, since two anchor tenants, CVS and Safeway, occupy much of the shopping center.
Harbor Bay Landing's owners did not return calls from Alameda Patch asking for comment. Liu said the owners are planning to replace him with another broker in effort to attract more tenants to the site.
Anything that brings more shops to the center cannot come too early for many on the island. "I remember when a thriving bakery, bookstore, gift shops and eateries complemented the anchor chain-store tenants," wrote Irene Dieter in an op-ed article for the Alameda Sun newspaper. "There are a few success stories still, but the once popular Enrico's Restaurant is now closed with all its furnishings still in place and forfeited to the landlord. Over a third of other storefronts have nothing but paper in their windows."
She lists apparent signs of neglect and decay at the shopping center and directs readers to a YouTube she made showing some of these problems.
Liu blames the recession and the Internet for the vacancies. "I don't think it's too much vacancy for the economy," he said. "The market for commercial is tough."
From 2002 to 2007, the shopping center was almost full, but demand for commercial space plunged when the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the investment bank, heralded a crisis on Wall Street, said Liu.
The gift shop may have struggled to compete with Internet businesses, he said. "You can buy soap anywhere. You just click and it will be delivered to your door."
He added that the adjacent office park has a lot of vacancies too, reducing the demand for retail.
Bay Farm Island resident Carol Parker said in an e-mail that the lack of stores in the neighborhood is becoming a hardship. She worries that it may be too late for the center to recover.
"The number of vacant storefronts, if you walk through the shopping center, has reached a critical mass and the community is starting to question what is going on" she wrote. "Are we poised to lose the remainder of the small businesses that populate the center and be left with only Safeway and CVS? Could they eventually leave?"
The city government has no plans to act, said Acting City Manager Lisa Goldman. "There is not really much we can do," she said. "The city is always interested in attracting and retaining quality businesses, but we have no jurisdiction. That's private property."