One year later, former World of Maps building on Wellington West remains vacant

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Location, location, location – right?

By Emma Jackson.

Maybe not.

As of this week, the former World of Maps building in the heart of Wellington West will have been vacant for a year.

The colourless windows and large “for lease” signs at 1235 Wellington St. W. create an unfortunate first impression for visitors to the crossroads of the trendy neighbourhood.

The 1,745-square-foot space and its 1,495-square-foot basement sit at a prime “marquee location” at the corner of Wellington Street West and Holland Avenue, across from the Great Canadian Theatre Company. Bars and restaurants, trendy barber shops, banks and services surround the storefront.

Yet no one has taken the bait.

While BIA director Zachary Dayler said he’s “concerned,” he insisted the long vacancy doesn’t represent a wider problem in the neighbourhood.

The former Tim’s Used Sports Equipment leased in under a month, he said, while Anytime Fitness is taking over a shop that had been empty for a year.

“The right business has to find that space is going to work for them,” Mr. Dayler said.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t other challenges.

At that particular location, the ground floor space would run a business owner as much as $10,000 a month plus utilities, according to World of Maps owner Petra Thoms, who said rent was a factor in her decision to leave the corner after 18 years.

Noise, dust and maintenance problems like leaky ceilings also convinced her to move.

“We kind of made do with it,” she said. “It was always fixed but it is an old building with old pipes.”

According to Ms. Thoms, Starbucks was initially interested in taking over the space when her lease ended, but the multi-national company decided against it.

Mr. Dayler couldn’t confirm that rumour. The property owners also couldn't be reached for comment.

Oliver Tighe, a real estate analyst at Colliers International in Ottawa, said it’s “surprising” that the relatively small space hasn’t been snapped up in such a hot neighbourhood.

“I know a lot of buyers prefer retail plazas that offer smaller units,” he said. Lack of parking or high rent could be playing a role, he said.

Mr. Tighe said it’s usually the big box stores that sit empty, as major retailers move to traditional malls instead of street-facing plazas.