I have been getting increasingly worried about the health of downtown Racine. Largely this is due to the numerous retail vacancies on Main Street. Several businesses have departed over the last year or so. By itself, this is not unusual or even cause for alarm, but the problem is the departing businesses are not being replaced by new businesses.
Many of the departing businesses are retail shops of one sort or another. Restaurants seem to be doing well and apartments are hard to come by, so it seems that the problem is primarily found among retailers.
I don't know exactly the reasons for this problem, but I suspect that increased property values may play a part. Many buildings have changed hands in the last few years and the cost of buying a building downtown has increased quite dramatically. If a building owner hopes to profit from his investment, he will invariably begin to raise the rent. The problem is that many retailers can't afford the new higher rents and they end up closing. New businesses can't afford the rent either so they don't bother.
Recent building buyers may have payed too much for their buildings. Ultimately, they will either need to sell their buildings at a loss or lose money by lowering the rent or by having no renters at all.
My hope is that this will play out without causing too much harm to what I believe to be a wonderful downtown.