List of vacancies provides options for prospective businesses

Aug 17, 2021

Businesses seeking to locate in Dartmouth now have a tool to learn what sites are available. 

A list of vacant properties in the town’s general business district has been compiled by the town’s Department of Economic Development. 

According to the data, there are 51 vacancies. 

This list will serve as a helpful resource to bolster the business community, said Director of Development Cody Haddad.

Calls come into his office “a couple of times a month” from prospective businesses, he said. 

“This is a good place to direct them,’’ he said. Having all information in one location will “make it a lot easier.” 

The report lists all vacancies within the town’s general business district, which includes Route 6 from Hathaway Road to the Westport line and Faunce Corner road north from Route 6 to the I-195 exit. 

The information was compiled using raw data collected in conjunction with the Local Rapid Recovery Planning process, a state grant program that sends consultants to communities to help them gauge business conditions and consider possible improvements. 

Dartmouth High School incoming senior Evan Garcia, an intern in the office, helped to put the list together. 

“It was very interesting to see how many businesses there are in Dartmouth.” he said.

In recent years, businesses have cited a number of reasons for closing.

Dartmouth’s Own Roast Beef closed because the owner said he wanted a change. 

Ann & Hope shut its doors because of the “significant economic impact” of Covid-19.

A.C. Moore cited the rise of online retail as the reason for its demise. 

The process aims to help the Dartmouth business district move forward in the wake of Covid-19 by looking at needs of businesses and potential solutions, Haddad said.

Right now, he said, much of the  business district is “not great to look at.”

Upgrading medians, improving signage and installing more attractive lighting would “make a big difference,” Haaddad said.

One major spot for vacancies is Dartmouth Towne Center, 424 State Road, with seven vacancies out of 24 units.

Having nearly a third of the center empty “may not look the greatest,” Haddad said. “Let’s try to redevelop that.”

Combining shopping with restaurants, for example, could create “a destination” where people do more than run into a store and exit quickly.

“Dartmouth is seeking that village-like atmosphere,” he said.

Two highly visible vacancies are the former sites of Pier 1 Imports and the Sears Auto Center, both located outside the Dartmouth Mall. 

“I can tell you that we do have plans for these buildings but I can’t speak [to] them,” said Jeff Dupont, specialty leasing manager for the Dartmouth Mall.

The Faunce Corner Office Park has plans to do general cleaning and upgrades on the interior and exteriors of the units, said Stephan Baptista, president of Cornell Management, which oversees the properties.

“It will be a lot better when that is done,” he said. 

The office park has 14 vacancies out of 24 units.

“The place was a ghost town during Covid,” he added. Now he is seeing “a lot more activity.”

He said a list of vacancies is a positive development, because filling vacancies “is a matter of marketing.’’ 

One way to attract shoppers, Haddad said, is to host events such as a holiday tree lighting or sidewalk sales to bring people in to town. 

“We want to better interact with our business community,” he said. 

Forming a business improvement district, similar to a chamber of commerce, could serve as the organizer and promoter of such events. 

“It’s a great idea, but we need buy-in from the businesses,” Haddad said.

The complete text of vacancies is attached to this story.