May 14, 2014
Businesses keep moving out of the Albemarle Square shopping center on Route 29, despite plans from the owners to renovate the space.
Customers of the remaining businesses say they're finding little reason to return.
The latest business to leave the center is Chandler's Bakery, which moved to the Rio Hill shopping center last month. Last year in an interview with the Newsplex, its president voiced concerns about the lack of foot traffic in Albemarle Square.
"I think I've remained optimistic for as long as I possibly can. It's just time to start thinking about maybe a more drastic step," said Carolyn Mucherino, the president of Chandler's Bakery.
Changes and upgrades to the shopping center never came, so the owners of Chandler's made the decision to move.
"Every time we walk from ACAC to the library, I do notice a lot of 'For Lease' signs, and it's kind of sad," library user Bryan Craig said. "And I wonder what it was like in its prime when it was first built."
The blank facades remain on the building, and leasing signs sit in many storefronts.
"We used to come actually come out to Olivet, the restaurant, and then Chandler's," library user Alma Harlow said. "But when Olivette and Chandler's has moved, it's sad to see the places emptying."
One year ago, the owners of Albemarle Square said renovations were in place to attract new business to the shopping center. But in that year, the only thing that's changed is more vacancies.
Adding to the trouble, the Northside Library has plans to move out later this year to a bigger space on West Rio Road.
"I've been a patron of the library for years and years, and actually the clerks are like family," Harlow said. "They're all so friendly and nice. This is just a more convenient location."
A spokesman for Dumbarton Properties, the square's owner, says renovations won't take place until tenants commit to the space, but there's no timeline for any of it.
The spokesman says Dumbarton will try to keep the space as fresh as it can until more tenants move in.