I think it is probably a combination of lease rates and lack of regular foot traffic. Sure, there is obviously residential here, but high density commercial in this area is lower than 100/101/102 Street. Downtown workers don't walk very far when there are other businesses on offer in most commercial properties downtown. I think it takes a very specific business to succeed in this area. While folks seemed to loathe the idea, a sports bar would have done quite well in this space. Cosmic Pizza seems to do well. I think the retail bays are pretty good in the Icons/Fox towers, but having previously lived on 104th Street for several years, I can see why it is tough to make it. Not having the farmers market every weekend has reduced business as well - Credo used to be absolutely packed all day on Saturday. To put that in perspective, there are businesses on Whyte Ave that made the majority of their annual income from the several festivals each year that are mightily struggling right now.I definitely agree on the Clancey comment - I think the variation in the podium is welcome and while different, isn't out of place on 104 street.
Like I said, I could even ignore (what I think is) the overall ugliness of the Fox podium if the street level CRU interaction was better. The Clancey's street level retail interaction looks far more appropriate in terms of the size and scale of the street level windows and entrances. The Clancey takes much better advantage of the prime corner retail location on one of downtown's most important streets.
I just don't want to give the Fox towers a free pass on their podium. I know it's better than a parking lot and I know lots of other developers get away with worse, but I have such a problem with these terrible, empty retail bays on a key street like 104th. It's been 5 years since the fox 1 was completed and 3 years since fox 2 and maybe 20% of the CRUs are full? Lots of other similarly located retail spaces have found tenants downtown over that time period - it can't all be blamed on the economy. How long are we going to have to look at empty retail bays because the developer didn't put enough effort into making the retail space attractive?
Anyway, that's the end of my Fox Towers rant - enough negativity for the year. I try to be positive about most development but things like this that reek of low effort really irk me!