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HomeNewsArchivesHavensight Tenants See Rent Abatement as ‘First Step’ to Revitalization

Havensight Tenants See Rent Abatement as ‘First Step’ to Revitalization

While many local merchants say that the Havensight Mall was at its peak economically about 10 or 20 years ago, some also said recently that a six-month rent abatement and the increased cruise ship and foot traffic expected over the next year will help to revitalize the area.

At a meeting two weeks ago, the Government Employees Retirement System’s board voted to give the Havensight tenants a six-month reprieve, from July 1 to Dec. 31, on rent payments. GERS owns the mall and officials felt that the tenants were "experiencing hard times due to a number of factors," including a sluggish economy, road construction and a slow tourist season, according to board members.

Walking around the mall this week, many merchants said the board’s decision was a good first step, but that they would also need business in the upcoming tourist season to stay afloat.

"I think it’s a very positive offer," said Minoj Mirpuri, owner of Bliss Jewelers. "I’m grateful for the offer and it will help ensure that we will at least break even and not lose money this year. It’s a good first step by GERS and hopefully they could help do other things to improve the traffic flow in the mall, and the cruise ships coming to the mall, so that we don’t need a rent abatement and can pay rent again in the future."

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Mirpuri, like many other business owners, said the tide began to change for the merchants once the larger cruise ships, such as the Oasis of the Seas, was diverted to Crown Bay – costing Havensight a more elite clientele that could afford to spend money on higher end items. That, coupled with the global economic recession and road construction that Public Works said would last until next year, has further affected business, he said.

But with the rent abatement and other developments, things should start to turn around, merchants said.

"We understand that with the current repairs being done to the dock, some of the newer, more prestigious ships will be visiting us and hopefully we will be able to see a better clientele at the mall," Mirpuri said. "We have mostly Carnival customers coming here now and they spend money but not at the level that, say, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line passengers spend – so hopefully things start should getting better soon.”

“I have friends that own businesses in other islands and their businesses are off slightly, they are not off substantially, or not to the point where they have to take a six month abatement in rent, and I think part of the reason that this has been offered is that everything declined here too quickly – there was just a substantial decline very, very fast," he said.

That decline is responsible for the closing of several businesses in the area, including the popular Dockside Bookshop, and has forced the Havensight merchants to close their doors earlier and earlier, which has resulted in steadily declining profits from 2010-13.

But along with the news of the abatement, work to expand the dock has recently stirred excitement. The West Indian Company Ltd. recently announced that it would be starting major improvements that would expand the existing structure by 150 feet, replace the existing posts that anchor the ships to the dock with heavier ones, and strengthen the pier.

In addition, WICO Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boschulte said Wednesday that the upcoming 2013-14 cruise ship season will be busier than it is now, with a 23 percent increase in ship calls during the summer months and a nearly 8 percent increase between October and September of 2014.

WICO is also "excited" about the arrival of four new ships – each carrying 4,000 or more passengers – and has also begun other efforts to revitalize the area, Boschulte said.

A community jazz event scheduled for the third week of every month has become "quite popular," he added, and WICO has also been talking with the Havensight merchants about staying open later – until about 8 p.m. – to accommodate more hotel traffic.

"Hotel traffic is different than cruise traffic," Boschulte explained. "It’s a different kind of clientele and those individuals have more time to stay in the area, walk around and take advantage of all the mall has to offer."

Meanwhile Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls said in an interview with the Source that the department is working to complete the ongoing construction in Havensight as quickly as possible. Some delays were experienced as workers uncovered power lines and other elements but, even so, everything has stayed relatively on track, Smalls said.

Public Works tried to minimize any major inconveniences, such as power outages, for the Havensight tenants and Smalls explained that the construction, which should be completed next year, will go a long way in solving problematic drainage and traffic issues.

Many merchants said recently that the government has tried to keep them up to date with the developments and that they appreciate what is being done to help.

"We know things are being done," Mirpuri said. "So I think we should be good to pay rent in January, February and March without a problem and hopefully by summer, if they really can find a way to bring the ships back here, we could take advantage of some of the passenger spending and get back on top."

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While many local merchants say that the Havensight Mall was at its peak economically about 10 or 20 years ago, some also said recently that a six-month rent abatement and the increased cruise ship and foot traffic expected over the next year will help to revitalize the area.

At a meeting two weeks ago, the Government Employees Retirement System's board voted to give the Havensight tenants a six-month reprieve, from July 1 to Dec. 31, on rent payments. GERS owns the mall and officials felt that the tenants were "experiencing hard times due to a number of factors," including a sluggish economy, road construction and a slow tourist season, according to board members.

Walking around the mall this week, many merchants said the board's decision was a good first step, but that they would also need business in the upcoming tourist season to stay afloat.

"I think it’s a very positive offer," said Minoj Mirpuri, owner of Bliss Jewelers. "I’m grateful for the offer and it will help ensure that we will at least break even and not lose money this year. It's a good first step by GERS and hopefully they could help do other things to improve the traffic flow in the mall, and the cruise ships coming to the mall, so that we don’t need a rent abatement and can pay rent again in the future."

Mirpuri, like many other business owners, said the tide began to change for the merchants once the larger cruise ships, such as the Oasis of the Seas, was diverted to Crown Bay – costing Havensight a more elite clientele that could afford to spend money on higher end items. That, coupled with the global economic recession and road construction that Public Works said would last until next year, has further affected business, he said.

But with the rent abatement and other developments, things should start to turn around, merchants said.

"We understand that with the current repairs being done to the dock, some of the newer, more prestigious ships will be visiting us and hopefully we will be able to see a better clientele at the mall," Mirpuri said. "We have mostly Carnival customers coming here now and they spend money but not at the level that, say, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line passengers spend – so hopefully things start should getting better soon.”

“I have friends that own businesses in other islands and their businesses are off slightly, they are not off substantially, or not to the point where they have to take a six month abatement in rent, and I think part of the reason that this has been offered is that everything declined here too quickly – there was just a substantial decline very, very fast," he said.

That decline is responsible for the closing of several businesses in the area, including the popular Dockside Bookshop, and has forced the Havensight merchants to close their doors earlier and earlier, which has resulted in steadily declining profits from 2010-13.

But along with the news of the abatement, work to expand the dock has recently stirred excitement. The West Indian Company Ltd. recently announced that it would be starting major improvements that would expand the existing structure by 150 feet, replace the existing posts that anchor the ships to the dock with heavier ones, and strengthen the pier.

In addition, WICO Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boschulte said Wednesday that the upcoming 2013-14 cruise ship season will be busier than it is now, with a 23 percent increase in ship calls during the summer months and a nearly 8 percent increase between October and September of 2014.

WICO is also "excited" about the arrival of four new ships – each carrying 4,000 or more passengers – and has also begun other efforts to revitalize the area, Boschulte said.

A community jazz event scheduled for the third week of every month has become "quite popular," he added, and WICO has also been talking with the Havensight merchants about staying open later – until about 8 p.m. – to accommodate more hotel traffic.

"Hotel traffic is different than cruise traffic," Boschulte explained. "It's a different kind of clientele and those individuals have more time to stay in the area, walk around and take advantage of all the mall has to offer."

Meanwhile Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls said in an interview with the Source that the department is working to complete the ongoing construction in Havensight as quickly as possible. Some delays were experienced as workers uncovered power lines and other elements but, even so, everything has stayed relatively on track, Smalls said.

Public Works tried to minimize any major inconveniences, such as power outages, for the Havensight tenants and Smalls explained that the construction, which should be completed next year, will go a long way in solving problematic drainage and traffic issues.

Many merchants said recently that the government has tried to keep them up to date with the developments and that they appreciate what is being done to help.

"We know things are being done," Mirpuri said. "So I think we should be good to pay rent in January, February and March without a problem and hopefully by summer, if they really can find a way to bring the ships back here, we could take advantage of some of the passenger spending and get back on top."