Susan Proctor walks from her Manuka office to collect the post every day, but the increasing number of vacancies she sees on the way has her concerned.
As a commercial property lawyer, many of the businesses and buildings she passes were once her clients.
And as a building owner herself through her self-managed superannuation fund, she knows the pressure they have been under due to rising commercial rates.
Those growing bills are helping to erode the status of Manuka as one of Canberra's most desirable and fashionable shopping precincts, the Manuka Business Association told an ACT parliamentary inquiry.
The group contended that increasing government charges for building owners left landlords with less money to invest in maintenance.
Coupled with a lack of government spending on the "tired", "outdated' area, owners can no longer command the kind of rents needed to maintain a competitive yield, which is placing downward pressure on commercial property values and discouraging further investment, the association said.
Representing the association during Wednesday's hearing, Ms Proctor said the current rating system was "failing to take into account true reality of scenario" by only calculating the charge on the average unimproved value of the land.
She said the unpredictable nature of the increases made it difficult for landlords to pass the increases onto tenants.
"A lot of the people who’ve purchased in the area over the years, whom I’ve acted for, many of them have bought these assets in their self-managed super funds in terms of wanting to deliver a yield into their retirement," Ms Proctor said.
"They can’t just suddenly increase the rents their tenants are paying or pass on the hike in outgoings because when they've entered into the lease agreements and made the purchase and done all the numbers it's worked, but these numbers have been unforeseen and they continue to be unforeseen."
The group has urged the government to consider a new system of determining rates that takes into account other forces like market values, rental yield or restrictions on improvements or occupancy.
In Ms Proctor's case, there is a heritage nomination across her precinct which prevents her knocking down the building to redevelop it into housing, despite the ACT Valuation Office determining the best use of her land would be residential.
And despite this determination, the valuation office has still applied the commercial rating factor to her land value.
This meant that her rates bill in 2017-18 was about $40,000. If a residential rating factor was used instead, the bill would have been around $4600 in general rates and $7700 in land tax if the property was rented or vacant.
"That’s the disparity. That’s the best part of a wage of an employee. That’s significant improvements to improve the amenity of the area that we just can’t do and I don’t have the flexibility with that particular asset to drop it and put on [housing] even though I have residential use," Ms Proctor said.
Ms Proctor also said the government's argument that decreasing payroll taxes offset the rising rates didn't wash in the case of Manuka.
"I’m pretty confident there’s no businesses in Manuka that would have a payroll that would even get close to the prior threshold let alone the new threshold perhaps with the exception of Coles," she said.
Wednesday was the final hearing scheduled for the parliamentary inquiry which has been examining the impact of rising rates on commercial property owners. The committee must provide a report to the Legislative Assembly by April 4.