Of the five businesses that recently closed — or are getting ready to close — five of them were on Madison Avenue.
Once a staple in the community, now has a “for rent” sign in its window after . A similar sign hangs in the Madison Avenue storefront window of , which in favor of an online-only business model.
In addition, announced that , and a sign hangs in the Lily Rose variety shop that it, too, is going out of business.
That store, at 13341 Madison Avenue — across the street from the , which closed in May — is having a going-out-of-business sale.
The only recent business closing on Detroit Avenue was the convenient store, which .
However, business leaders in Lakewood say the closings on Madison Avenue aren’t part of a local trend.
Kathy Curran-Sinatra, who owns and is a member of the Madison Avenue Merchants Association, said that there’s no reason to panic.
She said they're all closing for different reasons, not just dollars and cents. She said that there are fewer empty storefronts — and more new and successful businesses — than she’s seen in recent years.
Curran-Sinatra, who is marking her 10th year in business this year, also said that businesses that work together have a better success rate.
“If you stick together, if you plan clusters in your neighborhood, you only increase your chances of survival,” she said. “You have to have a different outlook — you may not even break even in your first year, let alone make a million dollars.”
What’s the trend?
Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development, said that the only trend he’s seen during his tenure in Lakewood is an increase in storefront businesses — on both Detroit and Madison avenues.
He said the buildings with “chronic vacancies” are those with residential space upstairs owned by “long-term, absentee owners” who have paid their buildings off long ago.
“They’re not terribly interested in the storefronts,” Siley said. “We see progress when the buildings change hands.”
“What you’re seeing now is that people aren’t just moving to Madison because they can’t afford the rent on Detroit — they like the character and the feel of Madison.”
Parking an issue?
At least one of the businesses that announced it was closing, Zappitelli’s on Madison, cited a lack of parking as part of the problem.
Curran-Sinatra said there are a number of reasons that businesses fail on Madison Avenue, but added that a lack of parking isn’t one of them.
“If you really want to go somewhere, you can find a place to park,” she said. “You would walk no farther than if you went to the mall and it was busy and you had to walk through a parking lot to get to the mall.”
City officials say they’re paying attention to the concerns.
“There’s no parking solution that’s going to solve everything,” said Mayor Michael Summers last year when rolled out . “We realize there’s a lot of creativity and strategy required, and we look forward to addressing these issues.”
Madison Avenue: The ‘new frontier’
With all the recent development and media attention on Detroit Avenue, it’s easy to assume that Madison Avenue is an afterthought.
“We haven’t been ignoring Madison Avenue,” Siley said.
He said the city is “aggressively” pursuing . A traffic signalization project — similar to the project on Detroit — would likely follow.
Siley also said the city will focus its storefront renovation program on the Madison commerical corridor in 2013.
Higher property values and higher rent on Detroit Avenue, also make Madison Avenue an attractive alternative for potential business owners, he added.
“Madison Avenue is kind of a new frontier in Lakewood,” Siley said. “It’s a competitive location, you still have all the benefits of living in an accessible and walkable community and it has a different building stock that is interesting and presents a very big opportunity for more investment.
“I think that’s where you’re going to see investment in the next two to three years,” he added.