Rash of vacancies hit Mission’s Johnson Drive business district

Following more than a year of intensive construction that ended in 2014, the city of Mission and its business community watched with pleasure as the occupancy rate along the Johnson Drive business district started to tick steadily upward, reversing a trend of vacancies that had been one of the drivers behind the massive revamp of the street and sidewalks there.

But four years later, concerns about vacancy rates have returned.

Over the course of the past several months, Johnson Drive has been hit with a rash of vacancies as both long-standing and just-opened businesses have shuttered.

Here’s a look at what’s currently vacant on Johnson Drive between Nall and Lamar:

  • 5612 Johnson Drive: Was most recently Sue’s Accessories, which was closed after the store was raided in November and the owner charged with selling counterfeit merchandise.
  • 5622 Johnson Drive: Was most recently Sandra Mexican Store, which had just opened last fall.
  • 5903 Johnson Drive: Was most recently Suga Rae’s Children’s Boutique. The store announced it was closing for renovations in summer 2017 and posted a message on social media in September suggesting it would be announcing a grand reopening — but it’s currently listed as available for lease.
  • 5915 Johnson Drive: Was the Classic Tressie photo studio.
  • 6005 Johnson Drive
  • 6009A Johnson Drive: Was most recently The Electronics Store. They’ve relocated to Superflea in northeast Kansas City, Mo.
  • 6009B Johnson Drive: Was most recently Vintage Mission. “We are sorry to say we have closed our storefront – we appreciate your interest and support and hope you stay tuned as we transition,” reads a message on the company’s website.
  • 6015 Johnson Drive: Was most recently Amelia’s Bloomers. The owner is still active selling clothing online, and recently had a pop up shop in Carson City, Nevada.

The string of vacancies has caught the attention of the business community, and came up during debate over the proposed four-story apartment building on Martway. Both the developer and some downtown business owners argued that increasing the number of people who live within walking distance of Johnson Drive could help retail operations in the area stay in business.

A commercial real estate manager who works frequently in the downtown Mission area said that some of the vacancies are likely the result of the natural progression of businesses needing a bigger space or a different geographic location. But he noted that business viability can be a contributing factor to retail vacancies.

“Unfortunately, it seems that some landlords will accept any tenant that can come up with a security deposit, without regard to the viability of the tenant’s business concept or their financial capabilities,” he said.