Publications

- January 1, 2019: Vol. 31, Number 1

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Retail closures fuel adaptive reuse: Repurposing of vacant properties accelerates amid shifting retail landscape

by Beth Mattson-Teig

Transformation sweeping through the retail sector is leaving some casualties in terms of vacant storefronts and obsolete shopping centers. Yet the dilemma of what to do with defunct real estate is sparking some creative solutions and opportunistic investments.

Critics who have long complained about the United States being “over-retailed” are now seeing empty retail space that is being repurposed, renovated and redeveloped to accommodate new uses. Adaptive reuse projects have accelerated over the past few years, and a strong pipeline of activity is ahead as the shakeout in department stores, big-box retailers, and struggling class B and C malls continues. According to Cushman & Wakefield, nearly 8,500 stores closed in 2017, surpassing the number during the Great Recession. The firm also forecast store closures would exceed 9,000 in 2018, with notable examples including the likes of Bon-Ton Stores, Sears Holdings Corp. and Toys “R” Us.

The flip side of these

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