PLAISTOW — The old Shaw's plaza at 9 Plaistow Road will have a new tenant, filling now-vacant 6,000 square feet.
Advance Auto Parts will be going into the former Blockbuster space, according to Peter Carbone, the managing partner for Taurus Real Estate, who is working to lease space in the plaza.
"Advance Auto Parts just signed the lease with us and has started building," he said. "They expect to move in by early spring."
The space has been empty since 2007 and is still surrounded by other empty spaces, including the former Shaw's and Petco.
Building inspector Mike Dorman said there hasn't been much the town could do to fill the empty spaces.
"It's up to the property owners and the business owners," he said. "It's been empty since the new Shaw's was built a couple of years ago. The town would love to see all the buildings full, but all we can do is hope they come to town."
Shaw's left because Stateline Plaza was completely redone and looked better than the 9 Plaistow Road location, Dorman said.
"Stateline Plaza is full except for one unit," he said. "They've done a very nice job of making it look good and drawing tenants. The old Shaw's plaza is planning on doing something similar, repaving and doing some landscaping. They want to do a facelift and maybe that will draw in more business."
Dorman said it's a great location on the northbound side of Route 125, just across the border with Massachusetts.
Jim Palmer, the owner of Live Free or Diner at 5 Plaistow Road, said the empty spaces have hurt his business.
"I just bought the diner in November, but it absolutely bothers me that it's empty," he said. "I don't understand why this mall is so empty. We're 50 yards from the Massachusetts border; you'd think we'd be packed with people not wanting to pay taxes."
He said the new tenant would help, but a few more would be better.
"I've heard this restaurant was very busy before the Shaw's moved out," Dorman said. "Hopefully, we'll get the vacancies filled so business picks up."
Carbone said even one lease means more are probably coming.
"The interest level in the property has picked up quite significantly over the past three to four months," he said. "In the coming six to eight weeks, we'll have a few more deals to announce."
Carbone said there has been interest in some of the other large spaces on the interior of the plaza, but Shaw's is holding the process back a bit.
"Shaw's is still a tenant in the plaza, they still have a lease with us," he said. "But when they closed their store, they took away a lot of the foot traffic in and out of the center every day, which really caused a decrease in sales for the tenants near them."
He said Shaw's has been discussing a deal with some potential tenants.
"Shaw's still has the space, but if it does lease it out, we'd expect those spaces to lease up so quickly," Carbone said. "Shaw's is not holding it back intentionally, but a lot of the smaller tenants feed off the traffic generated by Shaw's."
He said the economy is obviously the driving force behind the plaza's difficulties.
"Because of the overall economic environment, everyone took a hit," he said. "But consumer spending has improved dramatically in the last 12 months. I think it's going to be another six to nine months to see some real improvement, but I'm optimistic."
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