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South Congress closings pile up as rent rises

More local businesses flee

Exterior nightclub/art gallery, bright yellow walls, window
South Congress stalwart Continental Club
Inspired By Maps/Shutterstock

It’s no secret that the cost of doing business on South Congress Avenue, particularly the strip from the Academy Drive to Monroe Avenue, has been on the rise for at least the past two decades. As the once-blighted strip has transformed into popular tourist mecca—a change driven in large part by the reinvention of its motels into boutique hotels and the building of same—several locally owned businesses have closed or relocated due to the rising costs of operating in the hot spot.

Recent years have seen the departure or relocation of beloved vintage furniture and ... objects outlet Uncommon Objects (which relocated farther south), Wet Salon & Studio, Strut, and Parts & Labour, while a planned new mixed-use complex took out Doc’s Bar & Grill, Sfanthor House of Wax, and Ignite Fitnez gym as well. In some cases, vacancies were filled by boutique-y but nonlocal businesses such as Madewell Commons and Warby Parker.

On Thursday, Community Impact took count of the latest batch of businesses to flee, including South Congress Massage, which moved south after, according to the owner, its rent tripled, and The Turquoise Door, which closed after its lease expired and due to what the owner said was a combination of high rent and reasonable terms. Both businesses were located on a strip of South Congress (1200-1210 S. Congress Avenue) purchased by Connecticut-based private-equity real-estate firm Greenfield Partners in 2016. The company also owns Austin Motel and Hotel San Jose on the avenue.

According to Community Impact, the strip’s assessed property value more than doubled, from $1,471,609 to $3,273,648, from 2014 to 2018.

Rising rent pushes local businesses from South Congress strip [CI]