This Time article is about how some cities are repurposing vacant retail space for other uses like art galleries, libraries and ads.
Here's a quote I thought was interesting:
"Nationwide, 10% of shopping-center stores sit empty, according to the real estate analytics firm Reis. That's the highest percentage of vacancies since 1992 — what you get when you mix a bad recession with a commercial real estate bust (thanks to years of overzealous building)."
Stamford's perpetual vacancies were definitely not caused by either the recession or overbuilding. Some spaces have been empty for three or four years, long before the recession. What I've gleaned is that landlords here want way too much rent and/or a particular type of clientele.
Maybe they'd be wise to follow this advice:
"...in the short term, getting creative with commercial space keeps storefronts filled, which helps keep properties secure and community spirit intact, and may even bring in a little money for would-be landlords to offset costs like utilities, taxes and maintenance."