Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Within the last month and a half, Fitness Together, Elements Therapeutic Massage and Fire Restaurant and Bar closed up shop in the Dove Mountain Shopping Centre. Fire plans to return in October with a new focus on family-style eating and delivery.

Three businesses in the Dove Mountain Shopping Centre have closed.

Fitness Together and Elements Therapeutic Massage spa closed their doors in mid-June. They were located next door to each other in the center, located at Tangerine Road and Dove Mountain Boulevard.

Most recently, Fire Restaurant and Bar shut down, albeit for a few months, though the business’s phone had been disconnected. A sign on the door indicates the eatery will be back on Oct. 1, but in a different form.

Jim Bradley, a managing partner in the Fire Restaurant, said the restaurant will be back after the summer, with a different focus on family-style pizza dishes, lower price points and an expanded delivery and catering aspect.

“Due to the decrease in the Dove Mountain population, we decided it would be best to close for July, August and September,” wrote Bradley in an e-mail. “We may do this annually until the area gets more built up.”

Roxie Walker, owner of Fitness Together and Elements Therapeutic Massage, had no comment on the closings.

The Dove Mountain area has 3,588 platted lots and an eventual capacity of more than 9,000 homes. The shopping center is a gateway to the area, the first set of shops someone will see traveling to and from the new Ritz-Carlton resort. In addition to golf, the resort will feature a 17,000 square foot spa and fitness center.

The vacancies in Dove Mountain are not unique. A report released last week indicates that Tucson’s retail vacancy rate for the second quarter 2008 will be approximately 8.5 percent, according to Tucson Realty and Trust Co., with a projection of 9.5 percent by year’s end.

“There may be a disconnect between what the Tucson population can absorb and what our-of-state developers can build in today’s market,” cites the report.

Like dominos, the retail vacancy rate is first dependent upon the area’s home sales.

“The Northwest is probably doing better, just because there’s a lot of growth in the area,” said Rita Perez, a retail specialist with Tucson Realty and Trust. The area has a more active housing market than the other parts of Tucson, she said.

Retail vacancies on the south side of Tucson are slightly higher than the area’s average, due in part to a larger number of home foreclosures. Tucson on the whole, though, is faring better than other cities because of a rising population and the constant retail demand the University of Arizona brings, Perez said.

On January 1, there were 3,080 active business licenses in Marana. By July 17, that number dropped to 3,033. Marana officials said the drop in the licenses was either because of businesses shutting down or contractors deciding not to renew. The town itself did not close any of the businesses.

Nationwide, 28 retail chains have announced 2,122 store closings in the first quarter of 2008, referenced the Tucson Realty and Trust report.

While many are unsure about the effects of the economy, officials at Cottonwood Properties, developers of the Dove Mountain shopping center, remain optimistic.

“Our leasing activity’s been going well, we’ve had a couple of tenants struggle with the change in the market, but we’ve got replacement tenants coming in behind them,” said Cottonwood Vice President Bill Hallinan. “Certainly there’s challenges with the economy.”

A new restaurant and a stand-alone Walgreens are currently under construction at the Dove Mountain center, Hallinan said.

He hopes that with the opening Ritz-Carlton hotel and golf resort just up the road, and the return of the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play golf tournament in February, the center’s vacancies will be full.

Allstate agent Sandra Bates said her office at the Dove Mountain center is feeling the same economic effects as any other Allstate office in the area is, adding that her business moves as the industry moves in general.

“I don’t think that anything in particular has happened here other than everybody got hit by the economy,” Bates said.

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