by Bradley Parsons
Lower rent costs and a favorable location have turned Hendricks Avenue into San Marco’s fastest growing commercial corridor but investors disagree on whether City construction in the area is a blessing or a curse.
The project will widen roads and sidewalks, bury utility lines and create bike lanes. Some proprietors think that will create a more walkable environment that should stimulate retail business.
But the project has already eliminated 21 on-street parking spaces. Critics say the loss of those spaces will chase away more business than bike lanes or wider sidewalks bring in.
Whatever the obstacles, the area’s roster of businesses has been expanding rapidly. The road is anchored by b.b.’s restaurant on the north end and Matthew’s on the south with Panera and La Napolera in the middle. Two coffee shops have opened in 2005 and proprietors are looking for another restaurant to open soon.
Property owner Jack Davis said the Hendricks market is expanding but said the lack of parking could hurt the area’s growth.
But some proprietors think the road improvements will help area businesses. Melissa Moldovan, owner and general manager of 200cc coffee shop, is planning to turn her wider sidewalk into patio seating.
Panera landlord Mark Rubin said the City’s improvements will encourage people to get out of their cars and walk. He pointed out that the City provided 40 parking spaces on LaSalle through a temporary lease with an area church.
Developers in the area agree that comparatively low rents are the primary driver for development. Davis said area rents are about a third cheaper than in San Marco Square and about a dollar per square foot cheaper than San Marco Boulevard.
Davis said he fields about a call a week from potential tenants for his one vacant Hendricks storefront.