Which retail destinations have the most vacancies?
The economic slowdown and the unstable security and political environment obviously affect the retail real estate market. There has never been as many empty retail units across Beirut as there are today. “For Rent” signs dot the windows of the city’s main shopping streets. Certain stores have been vacant for years. Rental values are too high compared to the potential returns that a tenant could hope to achieve. Still, many store owners refuse to drop their asking prices so that they are more in line with market reality. They do not realize that it is better – and more financially logical – to be satisfied with a smaller income than no income at all!
Hamra is the historical center of Ras Beirut – the most cosmopolitan neighborhood of the capital and a sure investment value. Hamra has been booming for more than a couple of years, and continues to be in great demand by developers – who follow the market trend. Hamra is a collection of three different geographical entities: the area around Hamra Street is the heart of the neighborhood, then the eastern and western ends. Each geographical area caters to a special niche market and offers different development potentials. These differences are reflected in the price of the BUA. While land is becoming extremely rare in the heart of Beirut, Hamra still offers some golden development opportunities.
Which areas are booming?
Ras Beirut used to be the traditional prime business destination of the capital. The area is sub-divided into different office hubs that have different characteristics due to the type of stock available and the clientele to which it caters. While the majority of Ras Beirut no longer attracts business – mainly due to an aging stock and lack of parking spaces, some neighborhoods are still popular because of their proximity to important commercial hubs, Hamra and Verdun. The two main attraction poles in Ras Beirut at the moment are AUBMC and Gefinor Center.
Bliss Street is a crumbling address. It is an accumulation of low-end retail shops – accessory stores, neighborhood grocery stores, fast food joints…. Some buildings will soon be demolished, three projects are under construction, and the rest of the street is made up of a number of old one- to three-floor buildings in a very poor state of repair. Yet, despite its run-down state, Bliss Street is still one of the busiest retail streets of Ras Beirut and a recognized residential address.