Is history repeating itself? Harbor Village Townhomes sees quick vacancies

Savannah Vasquez
The Harbor Village Townhomes have seen a recent drop in business tenants since reopening in late 2013.

The newly renovated Harbor Village Townhomes have seen some quick vacancies this year. The building, once called the Renaissance, underwent a major overhaul in 2013 by Alabama company, JME Building and Development LLC. The reconstruction project was highly praised by the city, as council members hoped the building’s resurrection would bring life back to the eastern portion of the harbor.

Upon reopening in late 2013, it looked like the building would indeed see a resurgence as eight tenants quickly filled the 10 storefronts along Harbor Blvd. Today however, that number has depleted by 50 percent and is now down to merely four operators on the property.

The businesses that vacated after being open for less than a year in the location were LuLu’s Uniform Boutique, Deep South Sno Treats, Ella Madison Boutique and Sadie Lane Revolving Loft and Boutique. The Log caught up with some of the business owners to probe as to why tenants chose to vacate, especially at such a rapid pace.

Crystal Yeabower of Sadie Lane said location was the main reason her company left.

“We were looking at a different location,” she said. “Originally we wanted to be in Sandestin or closer to 30A.”

Lori Moore of Deep South Sno Treats agreed saying, “Basically for us it was location. The main thing was we didn’t get any traffic in there and there was no sign. We were in there a year without a street sign.”

The sign dilemma may have been the common denominator as Tom Clay of Lulu’s Uniform Boutique told The Log that was one of the larger issues voiced by the tenants he became friends with.

“The biggest complaint was there were no signs and we were promised that from day one, and parking was always a big deal,” Clay said. “It is a tough building because of it being a mixed-use building with townhomes upstairs and businesses downstairs and no assigned parking spots.”

Clay further explained that the business owners tried to band together on issues and bring them before management, but to no avail.

“We would get together and bring up these issues to management, but we always got put on the back burner and we never saw it,” he said.

One example Clay gave was when the building manager attempted to address parking issues by towing vehicles without proper discretion.

“We ran into issues with towing customers cars,” said Clay, “it was crazy.”

Both Clay and Moore said another big turn-off for them was the out-of-state building manager.

“It’s hard for the company that owns it to maintain anything because they are out of town,” said Moore. “Honestly the management was not what we were expecting,” said Clay. “It was just not done properly as far as being managed as a property.”

The Log attempted to reach Ashlie Gleaton of Redmont Properties, who manages the site, but calls were not returned by press time.

Clarification: Ashlie Gleaton does work for Redmont Properties, but in-house counsel for the company says they do not manage any properties outside of Alabama, and that Gleaton may manage this property in another capacity outside of Redmont.

“We had hopes and dreams…we wanted it to work,” said Clay.  “We loved the location, the building, and square footage but it just did not work for us.”