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Brick And Mortar Retail Is Downsizing—Is Your Community Ready?

Remember being dragged to the mall as a kid? The phenomenon’s less likely than ever! As some retailers downsize locations and others shut down altogether, a contraction of shopping space is being observed throughout the U.S.

Perhaps it’s necessary. America has more retail space per person compared to other countries, and here in Columbus we have more space than the national average. As trends change, different products emerge, and innovations in the internet and supply chains remake how we buy, it’s understandable that some places become obsolete. The end result of that however, isn’t pretty:

(above: scenes omitted from Experience Columbus promotions) Photo credits: M. Rostan)

There are a number of ideas for reusing places like these, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The neighborhoods surrounding the former shopping destinations above have slow or declining population and wage growth, and reflect vastly different demographics than when first built. The space and layout of the typical suburban shopping center may not be ideal for the needs of a community that’s evolved through multiple generations, or even seen as desirable.

As 2017 progresses, more store closures are on the horizon, and more scenes like these will emerge. Just last week, Sears announced more closures, leaving longtime Columbus properties Westland Mall entirely vacant and Eastland Mall with no anchor stores. The news will no doubt spur talks about future directions in their respective neighborhoods, but where are these places located in your community? What are the conditions of the surrounding neighborhoods and is there something they need that is missing? Do you have an idea for how these spaces could be remade or replaced to improve quality of life? A new phase in fighting blight and redevelopment is emerging, so let’s get ready.