Big-Box Vacancies Adding Up

U.S. & World

Shuttered big-box retailers leave behind empty shells of stores, often called “ghost boxes.”

In the wake of what some are calling a retail apocalypse, the real estate graveyard is growing.

“These closures release millions of square footage on the market, and there’s just not a lot of retailers that can fill that space,” says Mary Diduch, a national real estate investor. 

Developers are finding creative, sometimes quirky, ways to bring “ghost boxes” back to life.

The Spam Museum opened in an old K-Mart location in Austin, Minnesota. Now it’s an attraction that brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Across the United States, everything from community centers to churches to government offices are filling the gap left by big box closures. 

Some shopping malls are also utilizing empty retail spaces for gyms, and even apartments. 

“I’ve heard from experts that housing is being floated out as an option to fill some of these spaces,” Diduch says. “Whether that comes to fruition on a big scale remains to be seen.”

With the current housing market at a record-low supply and sky-high demand, turning “Toys R Us” into condos for us isn’t out of the question. 

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