by Eric Hagen
A much smaller percentage of Andover’s tax base is commercial and industrial compared with the neighboring communities of Anoka, Blaine and Coon Rapids.
To boost that percentage by further developing areas already planned for commercial redevelopment, the Andover Economic Development Authority (EDA) unanimously decided to hire the McComb Group, Ltd., Minneapolis, to conduct a retail market analysis to determine what kind of businesses are needed in Andover. The cost of this study is $29,750.
Although Andover staff have worked on marketing initiatives on their own, City Administrator Jim Dickinson said the city has not done a retail market analysis in the 11 years he has worked for the city.
“They’ll give us a lay of the land and feedback on overall market indicators and what would complement current businesses,” Dickinson said.
Andover’s Community Development Director David Carlberg was working with the city of Cambridge when it did a retail market analysis. What these studies do is look at the retail businesses that exist in the community today, look at what is available in neighboring cities and recommends what type of businesses have a market in Andover, according to Carlberg.
For example, Carlberg said the retail market analysis may show that another grocery store or home improvement store is needed in an area of the community. The study will be focusing on three particular areas of Andover – Bunker Lake Boulevard between Round Lake and Hanson boulevards, the intersection of Bunker Lake Boulevard and 7th Avenue and the intersection of Hanson and Crosstown boulevards.
Carlberg said the McComb Group will look at how much square footage of space is available in the community for retail and how much square footage of certain businesses is needed. There are dozens of possibilities, beyond the larger grocery store and home improvement store examples. The McComb Group will evaluate the need for stores selling clothing, shoes, electronics, appliances, sporting goods, books, jewelry, hobby items, pet merchandise, optical goods, specialty foods, auto parts and much more. There are well over 100 types of businesses that the McComb Group study will look at when determining what type of market there is for a certain type of store.
“It’s a marketing tool for us,” Carlberg said.
In the past, Carlberg said the city would have just been able to share demographic information to potential developers. While there has been development in Andover and larger businesses are able to do their own analysis to determine if there is a market for their store, Carlberg said this study would be useful for small business owners who are considering relocating to Andover.
When prospective businesses are seeking a loan from a bank, this retail analysis would be a good document to share if this type of business has a market in Andover, Dickinson said.
The fact that a well-known firm like the McComb Group completed the study adds more credibility, Carlberg said. He also likes the fact that the McComb Group will be interviewing business owners and shoppers to get their opinions.
Once the retail market analysis is done, Carlberg said the city would have paper copies available and it would post the study results on the city’s website.
The reason this came up was because the Andover Planning and Zoning Commission was discussing ways to increase the city’s commercial and industrial tax base, which would help the residential tax base.
About 8.2 percent of Andover’s tax base comprises commercial and industrial properties. Anoka, Blaine and Coon Rapids range from 30 percent to 35 percent for commercial/industrial property tax base, Andover staff learned. East Bethel at 9 percent has a higher commercial/industrial tax base than Andover, but Andover’s 2010 population was 30,598 compared with East Bethel’s population of 11,626, so the higher number of residents impacts the overall percentage. However, Andover has a smaller population than Blaine (57,186) and Coon Rapids (61,476).
This study will not include an analysis of industrial needs because the reasons an industrial or office use comes to a city are far different than why a commercial business owner comes in, Dickinson said. The city reads all the business journals and talks with people in the industry to determine who is looking to relocate, he said.
According to Dickinson, this was not a branding study in which Andover would get a new slogan. Unless the city hears a lot of negative feedback on the “Andover Station” slogan, that name will remain, Dickinson said.
Eric Hagen is at email@example.com