Downtown PG Executive Director Colleen Van Mook is pleased to see the business community thriving despite the pandemic.

The downtown vacancy rate in Prince George is holding steady at 12.67%, which is down slightly from last year.

A report was issued by city officials today (Tuesday).

Van Mook told MyPGNow.com the local support for many of the shops downtown continues to be tremendous.

“Despite the pandemic, the resiliency of our local business and our small business community is amazing and we think it has a lot to do with the support we get from our citizens of Prince George.”

“We are certainly always pleased to see when our businesses are thriving downtown and the pandemic threw us all for a loop but it is interesting that we are hanging in there.”

It’s safe to say Van Mook is used to the ebbs and flows that can take place in the business sector.

“There’s a lot of dynamic business movement in downtown and I have noticed in the last five years as the Executive Director of this organization. Small business can definitely thrive and sometimes small business struggles.”

“Sometimes businesses may not be able to be successful, they move on or go to a different place and what we have noticed is that someone else will come right in and make the effort in putting their businesses downtown and we are seeing a lot of success.”

She added there was a ton of development taking place in the downtown core before the pandemic and is encouraged that the work is still progressing despite these tough times.

The downtown core has seen 28 new business license applications and 16 development permit applications, which is an increase from the previous study completed in August 2019.

Van Mook admits while it was crushing to lose a 100-year-old institution like Northern Hardware at the beginning of the new year, COVID-19  didn’t allow their organization to dwell on the loss.

“While that is very interesting and certainly that was an iconic business in our downtown but I will have to admit to you that with the pandemic, there were so many other things to think about in terms of supporting our small businesses that we just put our energy into that.”

In addition, commercial high-rise buildings (four or more floors) reported a 5.1 percent vacancy rate in 2020, which is roughly a 50 percent decrease in vacancy from 2019.

Historical data trends have shown that high-rise vacancies rates have been on a steady decline since peaking in 2014.

The Study examines key aspects of occupancy in Prince George’s downtown area, including:

  • floor area available to retail/service and office use
  • vacant and leasable space
  • commercial high-rise vacancy

A link to the full report can be found here.