We’ve got a problem.
Say you want to open a business in El Paso. Maybe it’s a bar, or a restaurant, or some retail. Maybe you want to sell jewelry made from fossilized dinosaur feces. Maybe tattoos. Maybe chinchilla hand warmers.
Unless you’re going door to door, you’re going to need a storefront.
(Mental note: Business Opportunity! Selling margaritas door to door!)
No problem, right? There are lots of vacant storefronts.
And in a free market, that translates to low rents.
Except that in El Paso, a handful of landlords control a lot of properties.
Like Mimco’s Troy Walker said in this interview in the El Paso Inc., “El Paso has a strange dynamic, probably more so than any other cities of this size, in that there are very few property owners and they don’t sell. So you have long-term holders and very few transactions.”
Like that guy that bought all those bitchin’ buildings downtown.
El Paso has a landlord class. And they control the rents. And there’s no incentive for them to lower rents, or sell properties, because they can wait till America is great again.
They’re not using that rent money to eat, or drink, or buy fossilized dinosaur feces. They’re way past that. They’ve got all the fossilized dinosaur feces they want.
(So do I, come to think of it.)
If all their tenants went bankrupt tomorrow, our landlord overlords (landoverlords? overlandlords?) wouldn’t feel it till 2025, because they’re all fat and sassy from years, sometimes generations, of good living.
When business is good, those landlords are your partner. And when business is bad, those landlords still want their rent.
(Those commercial property owners are selling dreams, and it’s an easy sell, because those commercial property owners are selling you your dreams.
“You wanna sell fossilized dinosaur feces? That’s a great idea!”)
And obviously our landlord class performs a wonderful service for the people of El Paso, and I don’t begrudge them one thin dime, but cheaper rents might induce more entrepreneurs to enter the fray, and encourage economic development, which would be good for the landlords in the long run.
And to all the landlords out there, sahtak bil dini.