Back from the Dead: Breathing Life into Large, Empty Retail Spaces

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“Back from the Dead” suggests that there is some kind of “Retail Apocalypse” happening in America today…and if you read the headlines, you may think that is true.  

The reality is that there is a Retail Evolution! Retail is stronger than ever and is changing to reflect today’s shopping habits. While the internet is gaining some sales momentum (14.3% of sales in 2018), the reality is that while 8,828 stores closed last year, 12,663 stores opened. That’s 3,835 new locations for shopping and entertainment. (Source: IHL Group)

These new stores follow the pattern of a smaller footprint with more specialized retail in a more engaging retail atmosphere.

The real problem is how do we take inventory off the DeadMalls.com list and repurpose it into the types of leasable space tenants are looking for?

To bring these properties “Back from the Dead,” it will take a specialized team of architectural and structural experts. Each project needs to be analyzed to determine the right solution to breathe new life into the spaces and allow them to live again.  

In this weekly five-part series, we hope to show you some of the ways we have taken challenging properties and re-animated them into thriving retail.

Follow the series:

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Onesty Friday is a structural engineer with Shive-Hattery Architecture-Engineering. Onesty helps investors engineer affordable adaptive reuse of existing buildings and property. As a stuctural engineer with expertise in commercial renovation, Onesty discovers what is possible for your project and your proforma.

Onesty Friday, SE, PE, LEED AP

Structural Engineer


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Mark Seabold is a principal architect with Shive-Hattery Architecture-Engineering. Mark has over 20 years experience working with developers and brokers to revision and retenant existing buildings. By identifying opportunities to reenergize worn-down spaces, Mark concentrates on cost effective, sustainable design for his clients to realize their goals.

Mark Seabold, AIA, LEED AP

Licensed Architect