METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – The city’s commercial vacancy rate fell for the fifth consecutive year in 2016 thanks to more than two dozen companies moving to or expanding in Marlborough.
Whole Foods, Wakefly Inc., the Learning Center Experience and Scott Pharma Solutions are among the companies that moved to Marlborough in 2016, trimming the city’s overall commercial vacancy rate from 12 percent to 10 percent, according to the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation’s recently released report.
The commercial vacancy rate has dropped steadily from 22 percent to 10 percent during the past five years due to an influx of companies coming to the city, the report stated.
After remaining steady at 18 percent last year, the office vacancy rate dropped to 17 percent in 2016. Five years ago, 34 percent of the city’s office space was dormant.
The vacancy rates are not the only numbers dropping in the city, as Marlborough’s unemployment rate hit a 15-year low of 2.1 percent at the end of 2016. In 2012, the unemployment level was 5.7 percent.
“Those are both figures that show how Marlborough is doing,” said Meredith Harris, executive director of the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation.
Marlborough’s unemployment is significantly lower than the Massachusetts rate of 2.9 percent and the national figure of 4.9 percent, according to the report.
Mayor Arthur Vigeant called the city an economic driver of the MetroWest region in the report.
“Over the last five years, we have been able to proactively market Marlborough as a great place for companies to move and join our ecosystem of life sciences, high-tech and advanced manufacturing industries,” Vigeant wrote. “We have also been collaborating with companies that are looking to expand beyond their existing spaces in the city.”
Harris highlighted steps the city has taken to revive downtown, including creating the downtown village zoning district and approving a handful of mixed-use projects. The City Council signed off on an apartment project above Fish Restaurant and a six-story mixed-use project on Main Street that will feature condos, a restaurant and retail space.
“I think that’s really going to change the downtown,” said Harris.
Peering forward to 2017, Harris prioritized the reuse of the Walker Building. A study released last week identified a handful of options for the more than 100-year-old building including converting it into a hotel, office space or a mixed-use property.
MEDC officials will focus on building the east side of the city and continue attracting small businesses and helping them thrive through the agency’s toolbox, which features a revolving loan fund, small business incentive program and downtown rental assistance program. Small businesses are key to continuing the city’s economic success, said Harris.
“There’s not a lot of large blocks of space left in the city,” said Harris.
To view the full report visit http://marlboroughedc.com/about-medc/annual-report/.
This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.