Commercial retail looks to thrive around new arena

A new basketball arena could help commercial retail thrive in Lincoln, Neb.

Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb., will be the new home for the University of Nebraska's men's and women's basketball teams.The $179 million arena sits on 470,400 square feet of floor space, and will also host concerts and other events. Spectators were first allowed to see the inside of the arena in an open house on Thursday.

"The successful completion of Pinnacle Bank Arena is cause for the entire community to celebrate," Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler said. "The brisk ticket sales for concerts and Husker basketball indicate the excitement this state-of-the art facility has generated. And the arena's construction has been even more of a catalyst for development than we envisioned."

Entrepreneurs and businesses are taking advantage of the new arena, putting up retail shops and restaurants in close proximity.

NAI FMA Realty recently released a report that showed retail vacancy rates in Lincoln dropped to 5.6 percent at the end of June. It's a remarkable statistic considering retail vacancies hit a seven-year low at the end of 2012 at just 5.9 percent.

"I'm seeing that retail activity is good," Kent Thompson, who owns Coldwell Banker Commercial Thompson Realty, told the Journal Star. "I don't think it's as good as it was in 2005 and 2006, but it's certainly much more robust than it was in 2008, 2009, 2010 or 2011."

Kent said that tenants are calling him for vacancies at two different buildings, and that he's seeing "a tremendous amount of activity" in the area.

The Journal Star reports that Gateway Mall now has more tenants occupying space than it's had in years. Stores that have recently opened doors in Gateway Mall included Riddles Jewelry and Forever 21. Both of those stores opened over the summer.

Ryan Bouc, Gateway's marketing director, said he can't talk about any ongoing deals that are yet to be finalized, but the mall "has a lot of stuff in the pipeline."

Restaurant activity strong
Richard Meginnis, an executive vice president with NAI FMA, is optimistic about commercial real estate because "we're finally filling in these shovel-ready sites around town."

More than a dozen restaurants are slated to open throughout the city, including Tanner's Bar & Grill, which is going into a vacant strip center.

Meginnis also said that the market for warehouse and manufacturing space is sitting on solid ground.

"I think it's one of the hottest markets," he added.

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