I was driving through the Grove today looking around for volunteering opportunities when it occurred to me how much this place has changed since I moved here. I know that the Grove had been suffering since its height in the 70s but the sight I saw today was really inexcusable. I counted over twenty vacancies in the center of town and just forget about the west grove or the whole area around the Mayfair. I suppose this really is the death of a place. I spoke briefly to a gentleman who is closing his clothing store that he’s had there since the 80s and the trouble is, as always, is rents.
Out-of-town buyers arrive thanks to the internet with little to no knowledge about the area and purchase multiple buildings hoping to establish a monopoly on the commercial property market. This isn’t Palm Beach, however (although even Cartier is leaving Worth Avenue because of unreasonable rents) where there it’s an island and there’s nowhere else to go. This mentality where people come in and charge rates unheard of anywhere else in the market hoping to cash in on some short-term real estate trend is deplorable. It is as if they don’t realize that, as an institution is made of individuals and their individual actions, so a town is made of individual properties and what is inside. As soon as one or two properties fail to find tenants it projects an air of financial sickness and more people might start leaving, as happens in shopping malls across the country when the anchor store leaves, creating a dead vacuum.
I’m also reminded of when all the trees on a piece of property are ripped down around here so the whole world can see somebody’s big white concrete asylum. If that happens enough, it’ll just look like any other street in South Beach around here, and why did they not just move over there in the first place? Anyway, real estate naturally goes through cycles, even living on the nice part of Park Avenue in Manhattan was once a dollar bin a few decades ago. But here, things have been on the slide for quite a while.