Some buildings just can't keep business tenants for long

High turnover rate vexes city leaders
Some buildings just can't keep business tenants for long
Posted at 7:15 AM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-25 08:05:43-04

When three different businesses open and close in the same building in fewer than 10 years, it's often a sign that a problem lies in that location. The factors that make a poor location, though, can vary as much as the businesses that inhabit it.

The adage "location, location, location" and its implication that a business' success is highly dependent on where it operates rings true in Deer Park, at 7031 Plainfield Road. Over the last 10 years, the building has housed a catering company, a carryout pizza shop and a bakery.

"That particular building … is very small," said Deer Park City Manager Mike Berens.

Built next to a railroad line, it originally was intended to be an overnight stop for train conductors, he said.

If not for the building's limited space, Sweets by LaDawn would have continued operating there, said owner LaDawn Spivery.

"I left there only because of the space," she said.

When she began fulfilling orders for fruit bouquets, the building could no longer accommodate her needs, and she relocated to a space across the street. She's been operating in Silverton at 7032 Plainfield Road for about a year and a half.

"I was successful over there, and I'm successful over here," she said.

Although someone purchased and painted the building at 7031 Plainfield Road, Berens said, he hasn't heard  the plans  for the building.

In addition to the building's size limitations, its proximity to the railroad tracks leaves minimal space for parking.

The location saw its greatest success in the 1970s, when it was home to a barber shop.

"They did pretty good business," Berens said. "But since then, there's not been anything that's lasted more than a few years there."

While Spivery has been successful at her new location, the building she's in previously housed at least one other business, but mostly was vacant.

Empty buildings seem to be a more common issue than business turnover in Silverton.

"We have a number of buildings that have been vacant," said Silverton Village Manager Tom Carroll. "They're just not getting rented along Montgomery."

The appearance of the area may be a contributing factor, he said.

"It's kind of got this, overall, you know, kind of industrial or aged infrastructure feel to it," he said.

Village officials hope to see that change with street improvements and a mixed-use development planned near the intersection of Montgomery and Stewart roads.

 "I think the intent of that is to create its own momentum," Carroll said.

The story's the same across the river in Fort Thomas, Kentucky.

The building at 15 North Fort Thomas Ave. has seen some business turnover as well.

The pizza restaurant 15 North closed on Nov. 29. In the past decade, the building also has housed Warner's Restaurant, Pergola and Mio's.

"Part of it is the building," said Debbie Buckley, director of economic development for Fort Thomas. "It's just almost impossible to retrofit a house into a business."

With an outdoor patio, the restaurant did well in the summer months, but walking up steps into a house during colder weather seemed to be a barrier for diners, she said.

Operating a restaurant also may have become too taxing for the married couple with young children who owned 15 North.

"Restaurants are hard no matter what," Buckley said.

The building is for sale, and a few people have looked at it, but no one has stepped forward to purchase it.

"Everyone is kind of looking at it narrowly now," Buckley said.

For anyone interested in operating a restaurant at the location, she recommended going into the endeavor with multiple partners and plenty of money -- and keep the menu simple.

"For whatever reason, Fort Thomas seems to like very simple food," she said. "We sell a lot of hamburgers and red-sauce pizza here."

As a business owner, Spivery, too, has some insight into being successful, regardless of location.

Operating debt-free in both her business and personal life and having a supportive spouse have helped her maintain Sweets by LaDawn, even through challenging times.

Experience and a customer base also are key. Spivery had been in business a few years prior to moving into the space at 7031 Plainfield Road and, later, to her current location.

"I didn't just start up and cross my fingers," she said. "I had been in business for a long time."