October 25, 2016

Shrinking Shopping Malls Get Reimagined

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Shrinking Shopping Malls Get Reimagined

As the number of visitors to U.S. shopping malls continues to shrink, developers are finding new purposes for the large retail complexes. An overbuilding of American shopping centers has pushed a wave of retailer bankruptcies which forced landlords to reimagine their properties beyond a shopping center, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.

Read more: Not Exiled on Main Street

Shopping malls are being converted into everything from apartments, offices and industrial spaces, to parks and playgrounds.

For example, the Highland Mall in Austin, Texas – the city’s first enclosed shopping complex – is being converted into a 600,000-square-foot structure for Austin Community College that will have classrooms, lab space, and a culinary arts center.

In York, Pa., developers have eliminated about 50,000 square feet of retail space to create an open-air plaza at West Manchester Town Center, which reopened last year.

Retail centers exploded a few years ago but the recession of 2007-2009 left many retailers vulnerable, according to the CoStar Group. Since 2008, only one mall with at least a million square feet of leasable space has opened in the U.S., according to Green Street Advisors, which tracks the retail sector in real estate. Over the decade ending in 2005, on the other hand, 54 such properties were built. 

While shopping malls are closing, online shopping is exploding – more than doubling its share of all sales from 2008 to this year.

Source: “Shrinking U.S. Shopping Malls Get Makeovers,” The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 24, 2015)