Andover hires consultant to conduct retail market analysis

by Eric Hagen
Staff Writer

A much smaller percentage of Andover’s tax base is commercial and industrial compared with the neighboring communities of Anoka, Blaine and Coon Rapids.

The city of Andover hired a consultant to conduct a retail market analysis to determine what the market is for certain types of commercial business. Andover will use this information when determining which businesses to recruit.

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 protected]

  • Al

    Did the city staff figure it out that Andover does not have a major highway going through it like the other cities they are comparing to?

  • Lisa

    There is a great deal of concern about the sale of the POVs land in Andover and the activity suggesting a WalMart or super WalMart may well be going into that space.

    While revenue may be great – the negative impact that this would have on property values, community and even safety when you consider the types of customers WalMart attracts is unsettling. Many of us made the decision to live in Andover because this type of “big box” retailer had been kept to surrounding cities.

  • Carol

    I agree with you Lisa. We do not need a Wal Mart in Andover. I think we should look at niche shopping instead of big box. Let’s keep Andover the upscale community that it is!!

  • Spinner

    I disagree with Lisa & Carol. I like being able to go shopping at 3 am. for cold mediciene.

  • Tim

    Wal-Mart I would rather have Junk yards . Maybe a trailer Court would fit in nicely !!

  • HAHA

    @Carol….Andover upscale??? hahahahaha!! Really???? Good one!

  • Dave

    David Carlberg states that this study will give us a “lay of the land” and would give indicators of what would complement current businesses. Later he refers to the example of a possible need being a larger grocery store or home improvement store. David doesn’t come right out and say it but I assume this means Wallmart. I, for one, do not like what Wallmart would bring to the community, lower wage jobs, dependance on government subsidized healthcare and an element of patronage that Blaine and Coon Rapids can keep.
    If the community wants to shop at the Wallmarts there are plenty of them close enough already. As far as grocery stores and home improvement stores, we have some great choices already.

    The study should not be about what maximizes revenue but also what effect that has on our community and the retailers that have supported Andover through the years.

  • Mary Jo Davich

    The city of Andover needs to encourage more growth in an industrial park like Anoka and Ramsey. Ramsey has the new VA clinic; Anoka (county seat) has several small to midsize companies/bringing jobs to the area. Of course we all know the largest employer in Anoka is local government.

    Our elected officials should be most concerned about what growth patterns will take place in Andover to increase the number of jobs in our community. The goal should be to make it as painless as possible for business owners to do business in our community.

    I welcome Walmart to Andover, it beats having a bar at the Bunker Lake Blvd location. Andover is a great community.