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Thread: Article: recycling big-box store sites

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Article: recycling big-box store sites

    Print headline in USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/money/indust...5-bigbox_N.htm
    Warning: Sam's Law
    Print subheadline: As Wal-Marts close, cities can fill voids

    HIGHLIGHTS:
    Some towns continue to block megastores because they object to their economic impact on local merchants and the traffic congestion they can create. But thousands of other towns across the USA that welcomed them face a growing challenge: What to do with the cavernous spaces left behind by retailers such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Kmart when they downsize or expand elsewhere.

    Among the most unusual uses: An old Kmart in Austin, Minn., is the site of Hormel Foods offices and a museum dedicated to Hormel's famed meat product, Spam;

    Julia Christensen spent six years documenting the trend in Big Box Reuse, a book to be published in November. She details how 10 communities turned vacant big-box stores into schools, a courthouse, church, museum and other civic organizations.
    Potentially interesting book, wonder if we see Julia Christensen speak at APA National or any state conference ?

    If your fair community has/ had one, what happened to it ?
    In my city -
    2 older K-Marts were taken over by Rural King (very little remodeling);
    newer K-Mart was divided up into and finished as 4 stores with a wing addition for smaller shops (all occupied);
    Sam's Club has been remodelled and occupied as a call center;
    still have a big box still vacant after 5 yrs;
    Home Depot converted into car dealership service center and show room;
    and
    one I have not seen in several yrs so I don't know what happened to it.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    BUMP
    Pretty much the same issue and examples -

    My fair city's newspaper headline: Cities haunted by 'ghostboxes'
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...KdQBgD998DVD80

    Did this article appear in your newspaper ?

    Any ghostboxes in your fair community ?
    still have a big box still vacant after 5 yrs;
    and half of an old Target Store

    has imposed new rules that require a building to be razed if it cannot be sold,
    Does your community have anything on the books ?
    What are reasonable time limits ? and who pays for it ?
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    My city had a very big Home Depot that went vacant and remained so for many years. It was converted into a mega church called Crossroads about 10 years ago and has remained such. actually the church has expanded the property since.
    "Inside Joke"

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    This book was panned by a reviewer in Planning Magazine last month. There are plenty of anecdotal stories about a box converted to this or that use, but there is little guidance that can be drawn from these storoes. The question of reuse is too complex and we run the risk of drawing overly-broad conclusions about what to do with these spaces.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    A former Hill's store here is now an outpatient surgery center and medical testing lab. More medical offices are beginning to fill other vacant stores in the center.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    The first big box closing in my city was way back in 1975 and was an old Welle's department store. It was subsequently taken over by a local developer and divided and turned into a small indoor mall. Over time a bank was added to one end with a drive-thru and much of the retail space has been coverted into office uses. It's still almost fully occupied and recently underwent an exterior remodeling.

    Another that closed was a former Jewel-Osco grocery store. For a while it was vacant then became temporay classrooms while a school got remodeled. Then it was turned into an indoor climate-controlled self storage facility in part of it and a call center in another part.

    We also had a Bergner's department store in the small downtown indoor mall that left about 6 years ago to consolidate at their other mall location. It was vacant for about 4 years until 2 years ago when much of the space was leased to a large health insurance company for their headquarters. It was extensively remodeled and holds about 500-600 employees on two levels. The rest of it was turned into another corridor for the mall and facing the exterior there is now an organic food co-op grocery store and a fitness center. Another part of it was turned into a piano bar.

    The former K-mart closed in 2003. It sat vacant for about 3-4 years until a developer came along with a plan to tear it down and turn it into a student apartment community and include a commercial component. The city assisted with demoliton costs and also provided enterprise zone assistance. There are now 10 or 11 apartment building on the site with a nice clubhouse, pool, etc. It's very nice. The commercial inline shops are almost completed and they already have some tenants lined up.

    We have only one more vacant big box now. It was a former Kroger that then turned into an IGA grocery store and then closed 5 years ago. It's been vacant ever since. Sadly, there has been little serious interest and the owners haven't done much as it is owned by a large national firm with a huge portfolio of properties that is out-of-state. We keep bugging them all the time and try to help market and make them aware that we are willing offer financial assistance if they should choose to improve the property but to no avail thus far.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    There is a 2 block area with the following closed big box stores:

    Linen N Thing
    Circuit City
    Tweeter Center
    Home Depot exhibit thing
    A car dealer


    The circuit city is being converted into something...theyre actually adding a second floor, so Im guessing offices?

    And even though all the other ones are empty.... a new korean supermarket has come in a built their own big box

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jass View post
    There is a 2 block area with the following closed big box stores:

    Linen N Thing
    Circuit City
    Tweeter Center
    Home Depot exhibit thing
    A car dealer


    The circuit city is being converted into something...theyre actually adding a second floor, so Im guessing offices?

    And even though all the other ones are empty.... a new korean supermarket has come in a built their own big box
    Many of them may have clauses in their property deeds that prevent them from being reused for what would otherwise be logical uses. That is a big problem in many areas.

    Mike

  9. #9
    Cyburbian cdub's avatar
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    The problem with the current research and articles on big box reuse is they're only looking at the reuse from a tenant angle. Very few articles, if any, that I've seen actually look at how big boxes can be broken down and adapted (not including de-malling). We worked on a project in Nashville with some local architects that took a former furniture store big box and carved it up into multiple tenant spaces focused around a central entry courtyard. It's a pretty interesting project, just wish the surrounding car-centric area would evolve as well.

    Here's a link to the architects site. Scroll down to the Gateway at Armory Oaks project. Unfortunately, I'm not able to direct link...

    Here's an aerial to get a sense of the courtyard...link.
    www.sitephocus.com ...get the picture

  10. #10
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    Pizza Belongs in Big, Empty Boxes!

    Here in Indianapolis, we have two examples of massive vacant retail structures that have been reused as mega pizza buffets / family entertainment centers. The first example, Xcape, reused a vacant anchor department store's space in one of Indy's more troubled shopping malls. The space had been used for many things: gun shows, inflatable playgrounds, etc., with no success. Xcape came in and built an almost "Disney-esque" pizza buffet with arcade and ticket games, black light miniature golf, indoor go carts, and many other attractions. Every time I walk by, it seems to be teeming with activity.

    The second example is the same type of establishment (a pizza buffet / family fun center - but even nicer!), but rather than a shopping mall space, it occupies a former big box retail building (I believe it was an Office Max). It also appears to be wildly successful.

    So the same solution seems to be working very well in two completely different types of spaces. Both have brought new life to previously troubled areas.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    It's not a big box, but the Bel Air roller rink was converted into a relatively successful small shopping center (pizza place and a handful of stores) after it closed a few years ago, with bank in the parking lot. Earlier this year, some investors (including Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis) opened a restaurant/bowling alley/sports bar in an old WalMart in Hunt Valley, which sounds not unlike (in principle) the Xscape in Indy. Nearby, the gloomy, half-abandoned Hunt Valley Mall was torn down about five or so years ago and replaced with a much busier outdoor "Town Center."

    I don't think any of those places had the kind of restrictive deed-clauses mentioned by mgk920. All were in relatively healthy, growing areas with demand for new enterprises even on "used" sites--an obvious consideration in each case of potential reuse.

  12. #12
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    In the town where I grew up, Paragould, Ark., Wal-mart left a property on Highway 412 to build a larger property almost across the street in the 1990s. The old building set empty for nearly a decade. The first time I remember seeing it used after Wal-mart closed was as a haunted house at Halloween one year (scary, indeed!).

    Arkansas State University took over the building in I believe 2001 and turned it into a satellite campus. They've carved out classrooms in a portion of the building and plan to carve out more as enrollment increases. The chain-link fence enclosed portion that once housed gardening products and plants now has picnic tables for students to eat and serves as a smoking area.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jass View post
    There is a 2 block area with the following closed big box stores:

    Linen N Thing
    Circuit City
    Tweeter Center
    Home Depot exhibit thing
    A car dealer


    The circuit city is being converted into something...theyre actually adding a second floor, so Im guessing offices?

    And even though all the other ones are empty.... a new korean supermarket has come in a built their own big box
    Just to update on this, the Circuit City became a best buy. What I thought was a second floor was just the giant entrance best buys have.

    Im in Fresno, California now, and a mall opened in 2005 or so. It has two big boxes that sit empty, Mervyns and Gottschalks....and yet 4 blocks away they recently opened a target and best buy on what was farmland.

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