Assistance Vacancy in the Plinth

Students from Veldacademie experienced during their assignment on 'Leegstand in de plint' (plinth course vacancy) what the obstinate causes of retail vacancy are. During discussion with authorities, residents and entrepreneurs in one of the vacant shops, proposals have been done in order to achieve a promising perspective for the Boergoensestraat.

Handreiking Leegstand in de Plint

Vacancy in retail plinth courses is very common. This not only has financial disadvantages for the property owners, but is also a threat to liveability. The research into the causes of these retail vacancies and how to handle them has been commissioned by the sub municipality Charlois.

An important part of the research involved speaking with various actors related to retail vacancy: the market, the government, and the neighbourhood. Confirmed is that non of these parties benefits from vacancy. The reason why this still continues often comes from a lack of information.

The vacancy of ground floor spaces occurs mostly in shop-space. The current zoning plan identifies almost all buildings in the Boergoensestraat as shop-space. This however is contrary to the mix of functions that the Boergoensestraat always had and its diverse building character. The active policy to draw shop owners to the adjacent Wolphaertsbocht has as a result increased the vacancy in the Boergoensestraat. There is insufficient demand for shop-space to fill the current spaces in the Boergoensestraat with shopping as well. Concluded is that for these reasons, the current zoning plan must be revised or abandoned.

The problem with retail vacancy originates in the process to bring together the supply and demand. Real estate owners put their spaces up for rent as shop-space, because the zoning plan demands it. The appropriate audiences do not reach the owners, because they do not search for shop-space and also expect the price of these shop-spaces to be higher. Furthermore, some of the owners are difficult to contact. It is seen as a major step to request change of the zoning plan, although the municipality has indicated to be willing to facilitate in this matter. Owner and potential tenants do not know this, consequently they do not contact the municipality. A matchmaker is needed to bring both parties closer to each other and formulate a local vision.

At the final presentation the results from the research and the proposal for the Boegoensestraat have been discussed with the different parties inside a vacant shop in the Boergoensestraat. This resulted in a consensus about the conclusions and the recommendations that resulted from the research. Recommended is to selectively approach the owners and potential tenants and bring them together, using the insights and potentials of the research. Further research is necessary to implant the observations of the 'small scale' to apply to 'large scale' policy: What regulations, procedures, and forms of organization are feasible to prevent vacancy? What role does the zoning plan play and how can a facilitating government play a meaning full role in this process?

As a result this exercise offers a promising perspective for the Boergoensestraat aiding in assistants to tackle the problem of retail vacancy on an urban level.

Partly on the basis of the findings in this exercise, several students where motivated to graduate on vacancy issues at various locations within Rotterdam. The generic findings from this and other studies will be combined by the Veldacademie into an integral methodology for transformation of vacant real estate.