Adaptive Use of Retail in the Age of Unprecedented Vacancies

The numbers tell the story – 111,000 restaurants alone have already closed in 2020, with 40 major retailers closing nearly 12,000 locations – small and large. No matter if you have a vacant 400 sq. ft. space or a 100,000 sq. ft. big box now vacant, property owners may want to consider some of the following depending on their vacancies.  Understanding, of course, zoning may need to be changed.

Possible reuses for retail could be:

  • Medical
  • Office
  • Residential
  • Warehouse
  • Call Center / Data Center
  • Self-Storage

In most cases, retail small and large have their own HVAC.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, this is so very important, as the space is circulating its own air.  So, for office or medical users, especially, this is a distinct advantage over a traditional office building, as they can control their own air, rather than being in an office building where, on most multi-tenanted floors and in some buildings, the air is circulated. Meaning that no matter how diligent you are about cleaning and access for your COVID-19 employee, you are breathing the air of those not as diligent about cleaning and safety protocols.  Your restrooms are in your own space and you have complete control as to access to your space, no lobby, stairs, public lobby, shared restrooms . . . you control. Parking in most suburban retail centers is greater than some office buildings and self-park. So, retail has basement and storage space often rented at a fraction of the retail itself. More space downstairs means less space needed on first floor and less overall rent to the tenant and makes retail look more attractive.

Residential requires natural light – so if you have smaller retail and are considering converting to studio space and/or live workspace, especially if you have a mixed-use building already, buildout is in most cases less than a retail buildout.

Got Big Box Space – Consider converting it to warehouse – you already have the ceiling heights, loading docks, and power, as well. This makes big box a great candidate for a Call Center and/or Data Center.

The Blau & Berg Company is an 88-year-old company with over 550 years of experience. Please call one of our 40+ licensed real estate brokers to discuss your vacant spaces and how we can assist.