Empty Boxes And The Innovative Ideas Behind Their New Purpose
E-commerce and market saturation has led to the decline and consolidation of many big box retailers across the country. With development focus turning back toward the neighborhood shopping center, the bones of the former giants such as Sears, Kmart, Toys R Us and others remain standing as a blank canvas for the creative redevelopment ideas we are seeing pop up across all market sizes. Unique entertainment concepts such as trampoline gyms, rock climbing facilities, health clubs, and large movie theater concepts have proven to be successful in many areas. Other unique uses include churches, air-conditioned self-storage, and call centers.
In an environment where large infill land is hard to come by and cities are looking to keep their core “downtown” infrastructure intact, big box redevelopment projects can help alleviate sprawl and provide high visibility space for a variety of tenants who would otherwise need to locate out of town. Medical professionals are starting to look towards empty sections of shopping malls or big boxes with ideas for redevelopment in order to be closer and more accessible to their patients. Pharmacies and boutique grocers are following suit.
There is profit to be had in the value-add component of these empty giants. Careful analysis of the location, visibility, zoning, access points, and demographics studies for a redevelopment or Adaptive ReUse (AdRu) project will be required to properly gauge the timeline for success. Putting together a well-balance tenant mix can be a difficult process and can take anywhere between six months to two years. Working with professionals who have experience dealing with corporate real estate executives is key in order to present an organized proposal with a clear understanding of your market and how it relates to the target tenant’s business.