Arbor Village Retail is Still Mostly Empty, and That's Okay
There have been many comments online here on nextMLT and other sites such as MTLnews concerning the lack of occupied retail space at Arbor Village. These comments have picked back up recently with the news that the developer of Arbor Village, AFCO & Sons, has purchased and plans to develop the property across the street.
Steve Stone, General Manager of AFCO & Sons, recently left a comment on MLTnews responding to some of the other comments concerning the projects:
One of the main reasons that many existing residents in Mountlake Terrace have supported the Town Center vision is that many people would love more services and businesses in our City. Those same people are now concerned because the retail space in the first mixed-use project, Arbor Village, is still empty after a couple of years. This is an understandable concern. One of the many benefits of having more people living and working in closer proximity is that it makes businesses much more viable in that area without having to resort to acres of surface parking. We have to remember that this is a process, though, and that a single mixed-use building does not make a Town Center. Changes like this take time and, as Steve has pointed out, having some empty retail space for a while is consistent with how other neighborhoods have gone through this change as well.
So while the perception of lack of retail parking (note this is very different than the reality) may be an easy excuse for some to point to, it is not the reason the retail space in Arbor Village has not been filled. That's not to say the perception of available parking is not important, it certainly is, but it's not the reason we have empty storefronts right now.
Each new development project in the neighborhood, whether it's townhomes, apartments, ADU's, or cottage housing, is going to bring more new neighbors and help make those retail spots more attractive to businesses.