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More businesses close up shop in Baldwin Park

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Last year, a new management company took over the retail core of Baldwin Park Village and promised to lure new stores to the community's struggling downtown, but there are now more vacancies than ever.

But WFTV talked to some business owners who said despite the retail failures, their businesses are going strong.

Close to the shore of Lake Susannah, a massive, $40 million residential expansion is nearing completion and will bring another 400 apartments to a community known for residential occupancy rates well over 90 percent.

But problems have plagued the village and businesses continue to close. In July, the village had a retail vacancy rate nearly five times higher than Orlando at 18.6 percent. Since then, more businesses have closed, including a restaurant, pet store and a retail shop.

"I don't think Baldwin Park's necessarily any better or worse than any plaza, any retail plaza you could find. They're all struggling," said business owner Frank Walters.

But with another boutique closing its doors, another storefront goes vacant.

Business owners said, historically, high rents and a reputation for failing businesses have kept new stores from moving in. And while boutiques like My French Neighbor have struggled, restaurants like Seito Sushi fill the house every night.

"We've maybe struggled to get the right mix of tenants here, but that's not to say when the right tenants do come, they won't thrive as well," said Seito owner Jason Chin.

Seito Sushi has grown its business every year since it opened in 2005. And two other well-known businesses -- Jack's Steak House and Victoria Jewelers -- both posted their best years ever.