15% Vacancy Rate At City Ground Floor Level

January 26, 2023

The City of Hamilton “has a vacancy rate of 15% at ground floor level” and “we predict that this figure is likely to increase as the full and long-term impacts of the pandemic are felt. ”

This is according to the recently released City of Hamilton Plan 2023 Consultative Draft which said, “Our research has found that the City has a vacancy rate of 15% at ground floor level. We predict that this figure is likely to increase as the full and long-term impacts of the pandemic are felt.

“It is also abundantly clear that town centre retailing, in general, has experienced considerable decline over the last 20 years around the world. These trends mean that in order to retain and improve the resilience, vitality and viability of the City, there must be scope for a diverse range of uses which increase footfall and expand upon the types of services and facilities offered. We want to make the Plan supportive of creative uses within the City which could make efficient use of vacant space.

“Some of the uses which could be supported within the City, include:

  • Artistic and cultural uses – such uses can introduce a new dynamic into urban areas and attract large sectors of the resident and visiting population. In addition, these types of uses would make a significant contribution to the City as an appealing destination for recreational and leisure purposes.
  • Leisure and recreation – beyond restaurants, cafes and bars, the City lacks recreational and social uses which would assist in changing the perception of the City to more of a destination. Such uses would also retain the working population within the City for longer hours with increased expenditure for established businesses.
  • Flexispaces – these provide access to meeting areas, presentation areas and office spaces for short term daily, weekly or monthly based rents. It is anticipated that some of the existing office-based businesses may downsize or not renew leases due to the vast increase in homeworking.
  • Non-conventional farming – vacant buildings present an opportunity to explore hydroponic, aeroponic and potentially, aquaponic growing techniques. Careful consideration of existing building layouts, ceiling heights and access arrangements will be required.
  • Al-fresco dining – the increase in outdoor dining and drinking options has been one of the positive impacts of the pandemic as it has added vibrancy to the street scene. Where possible, we will continue to support businesses which wish to incorporate such appropriately designed spaces.
  • Healthcare uses – there is an emerging trend showing demand for convenient, walk-in style healthcare facilities. We know that Bermuda has an aging population so there will be an increasing demand for healthcare facilities. Whilst such uses can be accommodated within the City, it is important that they positively contribute to the street scene. It is also important to avoid a concentration of such uses within the Retail Core as they can change the character of an area and lead to a drop in footfall.”

The document added, “It is important to protect the vitality of this area through ensuring that retail uses continue to predominate on the ground floor. However, we’re also aware that vacancy rates within this area have been increasing and this is an extremely concerning trend which we must try to reverse. Of particular note are recently vacated buildings on Front Street, which is arguably the prime location for retailing on the Island. Accordingly, we must provide scope for appropriate alternative uses within this District to protect and enhance its vitality.”

In announcing the plan, Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban said, “We have found that 15 per cent of ground-floor properties within the City of Hamilton are vacant, with some areas averaging notably higher vacancy levels. There is increasing concern about the vacancies on Front Street and Reid Street, which are our prime shopping locations.”

“These trends indicate that the City of Hamilton is impacted by the same issues occurring in other jurisdictions. This Consultative Draft Plan seeks to play its part in addressing these complex issues in several ways,” the Minister added.

The public is invited to submit feedback on the plan and comments can be submitted to the Department at cityplan@gov.bm.

The City of Hamilton Plan 2023 Consultative Draft follows below [PDF here]:

Read More About

Category: All, Business, News

Comments (24)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. John Dill says:

    Parking is expensive so I try to avoid the city at all cost

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    “The City of Hamilton “has a vacancy rate of 15% at ground floor level” and “we predict that this figure is likely to increase as the full and long-term impacts of the pandemic are felt. ””

    Well, there is a prediction for our future!

  3. Bermuda Belle says:

    In Spain, buildings in the city are comprised of shops, cafes, galleries, restaurants on the street level, and the rest of the floors above are apartments.

  4. Double S says:

    Ironic that the Minister doesn’t realise the vacancies are a direct result of his Government’s failed economic policies.

  5. Sinclair says:

    The COH can also take some blame. Punitive tax on parking, tickets, and lack of convenient parking spots makes shopping in the city less than ideal.

    • sandgrownan says:

      meh, there’s loads of parking, bulls head, par-le-vill, city hall…

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        “meh, there’s loads of parking, bulls head, par-le-vill, city hall…”

        What? And walk to the shops rather than park right in front?

      • John Dill says:

        But why venture into the city, pay for parking, risk getting a ticket when shopping online is less of a hassle.

        • sandgrownan says:

          Why would you get a ticket if you pay for parking?

    • Cup Noodles says:

      Majority of Bermudians are lazy. People in cities all over America walk blocks to get to work or a store but people can’t walk from Bull Head to Washington Mall, SMH.. No wonder we high have the highest diabetes rate per capita and also have so many obese people here.

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        ON behalf of Bermudians everyone, thank you for that sweeping generalisation.

        As for your comment that people “in cities all over America walk blocks to get to work or a store”, that is certainly not my experience nor is it what Bill Bryson (an American author) wrote in his book Notes from a Big Country.

  6. question says:

    “We predict that this figure is likely to increase as the full and long-term impacts of the pandemic are felt.”

    In other words, the inevitable disastrous consequences of shutting down the economy for two years and discouraging tourists and visitors with the ridiculous and scandalous TA form.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      I believe our economic problems go back much further than 2 or 3 years. I would look back to 2007 when our Government drove over 5,000 jobs away from Bermuda. That was just before the recession of 2008 which caused its own misery.

    • sandgrownan says:

      While you are not wrong, this is the result of 20+ years of PLP policy, ineptitude and mismanagement.

  7. question says:

    It’s almost like there would be a clear benefit to making it easier to start and run a business.

    If they cared about it, the government would:

    - ditch the idea of a minimum wage.
    - encourage foreign investment by allowing overseas investors to own retail businesses
    - do away with the protected categories, and allow retail businesses to hire overseas.
    - reduce red tape. Commit to Work Permit responses within 14 days. Tell Dept Immigration they have to act as though applicants are customers, not nuisances.
    - Ditch the new Payroll Tax ideas. If they don’t, large numbers of IB jobs will be moved overseas, lost forever. Which will, in turn, crash the economy even more.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Unfortunately, question, each of the ideas you suggest are contrary to the PLP’s stated position.

    • sandgrownan says:

      Good luck with that.

  8. Marine Life says:

    Yes, I avoid the City only because of having to PAY for Parking. Stupid! You can go to Cities in the US that are the population of Bermuda and Smaller with Free Parking! They want people to come and Patronize! What is in their Downtowns? Bowling Alleys, skate Parks, Festival Parks, Spanish, Italian, Oriental and fine dining Restaurants, grocery stores, Breweries , theater , parking garages in prime locations, lots of shopping with very few empty spaces, lots of residential above most storefronts and many services. People have been investing into downtowns.
    No paid parking, no inconvenience in parking locations and no WARDENS!
    The pendulum has been swinging the last few years, catering to millennials living, working and playing in city centers. The above news report is not fully accurate in a number of cases. The Bermuda Situation is contracting.
    The only thing I appreciate about Hamilton is the drive through, seeing the artwork and pretty colored buildings! Not to stop and have to pay. For What?! ????

  9. LOL - the real one says:

    OK, a 15% vacancy on the “ground floor” level. What about other floors in multi-level buildings? Would establishments above the ground floor be interested in moving to the ground floor if the price is right? (or moving to another building) Reaching 100% ground floor occupancy can be done. Building owners need to make win-win deals. Think outside the box.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Ground floors in the City are generally reserved for retail shops. That is a planning issue.

      It is not a matter of thinking outside the box, it is a matter of changing the current planning policy.