Real Estate Redevelopment results unveiled in session

Published 2:51 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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During the last 12 months, there were more than 827,000 visits to the Main Street area in Atmore, according to officials.

Place and Main Principal Joe Borgstrom of Michigan, who was contracted by Main Street Alabama, presented the data during a Real Estate Redevelopment results session Feb. 10 at Atmore City Hall.

Borgstrom said the number of visits were done by 110,000 different people, and they had to be in the district 10 minutes or more.

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“The average visitor comes to the district 7.5 times per day,” Borgstrom said.

The data, provided by the Alabama Power Co., is acquired through cell phone data. A geofence is drawn around the primary trade area, and data is collected via customer visits to the downtown area.

Borgstrom said the goal of the session is to be able to help the community connect the market data with the sites downtown, and to make overall recommendations of strategies to help increase the value of real estate for the business community downtown.

Atmore-based real estate companies were represented during the session, among other civic organizations that have invested in the downtown area.

Borgstrom said a map was drawn, and the map defined what’s called a primary trade area.

“All data is focused on the trade area for the downtown district,” he said. “This is all focused on downtown, and those people are the primary users of downtown.”

Borgstrom spoke about what’s called retail leakage. He said retail leakage is a way to differentiate between supply and demand.

“When we have more demand than supply, then we have what’s called a gap,” he said. “And, if there isn’t a supply in the market, the demand gets met, whether through online or some other means. This allows them to see how much money is being spent in the community, and how much is leaving.”

Borgstrom said when the opposite happens, where there’s more supply than demand, there’s a surplus.

“There are often areas where we see the grouping and clustering of businesses and where they congregate, and people come to those places beyond the primary trade area,” he said.

Borgstrom asked the group gathered how much they think is being spent in the trade area on stuff and food.

He said $815 million of stuff and food is essentially bought on an annual basis in the trade area, adding that this is on retail and restaurants.

Borgstrom also spoke about what money is leaving the area as people travel out of town and shop, primary business targets and to encourage residents to visit downtown.

Some of the recommendations for district strategy included:

• Atmore has an active façade grant program, Borgstrom said. One of his recommendations included examining the potential of waving the 50 percent match if there is significant work being done on the interior of the building.

• Event spaces – The Encore will be opening soon, and because there are a few others, Atmore doesn’t need another event space, he said.

• Upper floor housing – Borgstrom said he learned there isn’t any opposition to upper floor housing in downtown buildings, but the zoning ordinance needs to be changed for non-owner occupied housing.

• Urban housing – Borgstrom said more housing that is within walkable distance of downtown would be beneficial to Atmore.

• More outreach to more black entrepreneurs – Borgstrom said some 52 percent of the population are African American, and less than 5 percent have a downtown business. He said the best way to increase that number is to keep reaching out.