Glut of commercial property stuns business owners

Ken Clanton has real estate signs throughout Manatee County.

The Wagner Realty agent has 32 commercial properties listed on the market, a significant number to chip away at in the current economy.

" want fewer signs," Clanton says. "I’d like to not have that many on the market."

Empty commercial spaces are a common sight in Manatee and Sarasota counties. According to a market research report by Grubb & Ellis, retail vacancies in the Tampa Bay area grew from 6.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 6.6 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

Manatee and Sarasota counties have a 6 percent retail vacancy rate. Manatee has 692,622 square feet of empty retail space, and Sarasota has 1,030,239 square feet that sitting empty.

As businesses fold or companies scale back on overhead costs, local Realtors face a challenging feat in trying to sell off the vacant retail and office inventory.

"There's an abundance of inventory out there," Clanton said. "There's a tremendous amount of buildings for sale and for lease. That's a huge challenge trying to take that inventory and move it below an acceptable level."

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