August, 2020 - Sachse Construction

Self Storage Sector Shows Signs of Resilience

The pandemic’s substantial effects continued to burden the U.S. economy and all the facets of commercial real estate, yet the self storage sector proved to be resilient in July. Although on a year-over-year basis, street-rate rents declined 2.6 percent for the average 10×10 non-climate-controlled and 5.2 percent for climate-controlled units of similar size, self storage rents have significantly improved month-over-month. Street rates for 10×10 climate-controlled units saw the greatest month-over-month increase of the past four years, up 1.6 percent, while street rates for non-climate-controlled units grew by 1 percent.

Thanks to its robust industrial market, the Inland Empire’s storage market held up well during the pandemic. On a month-over-month basis, street-rate rents rose 2.7 percent for the standard 10×10 non-climate-controlled and 2.1 percent for climate-controlled units of similar size. The Inland Empire was also the only top market that saw year-over-year rate growth for non-climate-controlled units (up 0.9 percent). Street rates for climate-controlled units, however, slid 2.7 percent compared to July 2019.

Across the country, projects under construction or in the planning stages accounted for 8.9 percent of total inventory, up 20 basis points over the previous month. Disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak are beginning to be seen in the new-supply pipeline, as 31 storage projects were abandoned in July, a 182 percent increase over the 11 facilities dropped in July 2019.

Boston was one of the first metros to shut down its construction sites due to the coronavirus outbreak and halted all non-essential developments from mid-March until the end of June. As a result, the metro had the highest number of abandoned projects in July, with eight projects removed from its development pipeline.

Read the full Yardi Matrix report.

Big-Box Retailers’ Profits Surge as Pandemic Marches On

Walmart and Target reported record sales in the second quarter, driven by the convenience of one-stop shopping and their e-commerce operations.

In the early days of the pandemic, when grocery stores in the United States ran low on staples like toilet paper, people flocked to Walmart and Target to stock up. Five months later, as the number of coronavirus cases remains high, shoppers continue to buy from the big-box retailers in record amounts.

 

On Wednesday, Target reported the greatest percentage increase in quarterly sales in the company’s history. Walmart, which reported earnings on Tuesday, doubled its e-commerce sales. Home Depot’s sales increased more than 23 percent in this year’s second quarter. Wayfair reported earlier that its revenue was up roughly 80 percent year over year.

The success of those retailers can be attributed, in part, to their one-stop shopping advantage — both in person and online. It allows budget-conscious shoppers to pick up groceries, clothing, electronics, and home goods at the same time.

“In a pandemic, you don’t want to make multiple stops, you want to go to one place that is safe and convenient,” said Andy Mantis, head of data insights for the research firm 1010Data.

The pandemic has been devastating for the broader retail industry, with name-brand companies like Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, J.C. Penney and the owner of Men’s Wearhouse among those that have filed for bankruptcy in recent months. But monthly retail sales — after plummeting in March and April — have returned to the level they were at in February, fed in large part by behemoths like Amazon, Walmart and Target.

Walmart had strong demand for groceries, as well as for home and sporting goods. With people still largely stuck at home, Target’s electronics sales surged. Home Depot and Lowe’s drew crowds of people eager to finally tackle home improvement projects, with sales of hard surface flooring and interior lighting doing especially well.

“These big-box retailers are just perfectly positioned,” said Andrew Lipsman, an analyst at the data analytics firm eMarketer. “They have basically every tailwind at their back.”

For shoppers who wanted to completely avoid in-store shopping, big box retailers already had robust e-commerce platforms in place that allowed them to immediately start providing customers with so-called contactless shopping options, including curbside pickup and home delivery of things as diverse as groceries and furniture.

“Throughout this crisis, we have deepened our relationship with American consumers and introduced millions of them to our digital fulfillment services,” Target’s chief executive, Brian Cornell, said on an earnings call.

These advantages have won the stores new customers who might have previously preferred local grocers or hardware stores. Target added 10 million new digital customers in the first half of this year.

“It’s creating a massive opportunity, and if they are smart about it, this is going to help them retain those customers and continue to fuel their growth,” Mr. Mantis of 1010Data said.

Whether the retailers are able to sustain this growth will depend partly on how much disposable income their customers have. The stimulus payments and $600 weekly increase to unemployment benefits meant that millions of unemployed Americans were still able to buy necessities at stores like Walmart and Target, and in some cases a few extras, like toys to keep their children entertained at home. But with the $600 payments now stopped, and Congress still deadlocked on an additional aid package, some shoppers may have to tighten their belts.

In contrast, many people who have held onto their jobs and are now working from home full time have found themselves with more discretionary income than ever before. People who might have spent money on dining out, travel or event tickets are now redirecting those funds toward home improvement projects like buying a hot tub, building a home movie theater, redecorating a home office or building a guest cottage.

“Sales were driven by a consumer focus on the home, core repair and maintenance activities, and wallet share shift away from other discretionary spending,” Lowe’s chief executive, Marvin Ellison, said on Wednesday in an earnings release.

The recent sales growth of big box stores is good for the economy, keeping supply chains strong and helping ensure job security for the millions of people the retailers employ, said Matt Williams, managing partner at the Brand Federation, a consulting firm.

“For the economy, it means consumers are still spending, maybe not at the same volumes and on the same things as in the past, but they’re still spending,” Mr. Williams said. “That’s encouraging.”

But it comes with a cost, particularly for small businesses, whose survival has long been threatened by the increasing dominance of corporate retailers.

While large retailers like Walmart and Target were deemed essential businesses when the pandemic hit, many small stores were not, and they were forced to close their doors, leading to lost revenue and wasted inventory. Many small businesses did not have a robust e-commerce business before the virus struck, and they have lost customers while they struggle to adapt.

People are also less likely to start their own businesses during this period, unable to muster enough capital or fearful that their businesses will fail in such uncertain times, said Ryan Gellis, founding partner of RMG Media, a digital commerce agency.

“It’s part of why a pandemic is a tragedy,” Mr. Gellis said. “It is not just the loss of life, but the loss of people’s ability to run their own businesses and pursue that American dream.”

Reconstruction Could be COVID-19’s Silver Lining

The spread of the coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the U.S. and worldwide economies. But that spread also created health and wellness scenarios for the built environment that lend themselves to reconstruction and renovation, say AEC firms.

“I anticipate an increase in renovation/reconstruction as buildings are adapted to COVID-required standards,” says Guy Geier, FAIA, FIIDA, LEED AP, Managing Partner with FXCollaborative.

Darren Burns, a Vice President at Stantec’s office in Vancouver, B.C., says many of his firm’s clients are “redefining normal.” And those that are financially strong are positioned to take advantage of a distressed market.

“Long-term, we see a reset from traditional thinking around work-at-home opportunities and the reality of the traditional office,” says Burns. “All sectors will be looking to adapt and prioritize health and safety. We believe the reconstruction market will grow in strength as we look to creatively adapt and reuse ‘leftover’ spaces into a new purpose.”

Such adaptations, say AEC sources, are likely to include improvements in buildings’ technology infrastructure, as well as their HVAC systems with better air filtration and the functionality to let in more outdoor air.

DPR Construction is among the firms that are also seeing increases in requests for “all things touchless,” says Scott Sass, DPR’s Special Services Group Leader, ranging from automatic door openers, occupancy sensor light controls, and touchless kitchen and breakroom equipment.

ADAPTIVE REUSE MIGHT DRIVE THE RECONSTRUCTION RECOVERY

Just how quickly the demand for reconstruction recovers, though, is a matter of debate. Burns points out that, unlike previous recessions, the recent retraction in new development is primarily the result of uncertainty about future revenue streams and financing. “This could set us up for a slingshot recovery, if the stimulus spending heavily overlaps with a return to normalized commercial markets,” he speculates.

Sass says DPR saw a slowdown in office reconstruction projects, as developers were waiting for more certain guidelines from government and health agencies. His firm, though, expects reconstruction, in general, to see an increase in demand, “as many customers are making due with what they have, and are putting off major capital expenditures.”

AEC firms are concerned about their clients’ abilities to locate financing to initiate reconstruction projects. FXCollaborative’s Geier thinks this could create an aggressively competitive bidding environment that leads to lower construction costs.

John Buescher, McCarthy Building Companies’ Central Region President in St. Louis, cautions that projects put on hold when the COVID-19 crisis began could stay delayed till early next year. Until political and economic climates stabilize, clients “are more likely to make conventional, low-risk real estate decisions,” he says. Even projects moving forward must contend with product and labor shortages, construction financing issues, and potential delivery delays.

Still, McCarthy is projecting “strong demand” for the reuse of existing buildings, be they office renovations or the repurposing of historic buildings. One of McCarthy’s recent reconstruction projects was the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station, a 120,000-sf, two-story attraction built within the footprint of a 19th-century iron-umbrella train shed. The PGAV Destinations-designed aquarium is a signature element of the $187 million redevelopment of St. Louis Union Station, a National Landmark structure that Lodging Hospitality Management (its owner since 2012) has been transforming into a family entertainment and tourist destination.

THE RECONSTRUCTION BEAT GOES ON IN BOSTON

While COVID-19 has consumed the AEC and development worlds, it isn’t the only trend that’s prevalent in reconstruction.

More firms, for example, are considering alternative building materials and delivery systems for these projects. Stantec and McCarthy are among those that have turned to prefabrication and modular construction to get projects completed faster, improve the quality control of that reconstruction, support jobsite health and safety requirements, and ensure efficiency at a time when labor availability remains dicey in some markets.

Stantec’s Burns adds that, in many markets, mass timber continues to grow as a building product of choice because of its low-carbon, lighter-weight properties. “New approaches to building systems will be critical as we navigate the importance of healthy building environments, post pandemic,” he says.

To that point, one of the more prominent projects under construction is the $930 million reconstruction of Key Arena in Seattle, which when it reopens next summer will be home to the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and an NHL franchise. In June, Amazon bought the naming rights and will call the building Climate Pledge Arena. It will be the first net-zero-carbon-certified arena in the world. (The building team includes design partner Populous, project manager ICON, construction partner Mortenson, and Rockwell Group, which designed the building’s seven amenity spaces.)

DPR is seeing a “big move” toward reconstruction that makes buildings smarter, says Sass, by increasing monitoring, automation, and the controllability of equipment and fixtures. He adds that the smart-building movement is driving an increase in low-voltage and network systems in buildings to handle the demand for wired and wireless networks.

In Dorchester, Mass., Stantec and developer Nordblom Co. are repositioning the 16.6-acre former Boston Globe headquarters into a 750,000-sf multi-tenant mixed-use innovation hub called “The BEAT” (for Boston Exchange for Accelerated Technology).

The BEAT will contain 360,000 sf of office space, 300,000 sf of flex/industrial space, retail, a 10,000-sf fitness center, 868 parking spaces, and 200-plus bike storage spaces. A multimode path is planned to connect the site to transit lines and adjacent neighborhoods. Burns notes that Stantec and Nordblom capitalized on maintaining the existing building to accelerate preconstruction and to retain the building’s character and history.

The $300 million reconstruction, which is slated for completion late this year, will include a ground-floor microbrewery and 100-seat restaurant, as well as several outdoor spaces for work and play surrounding the buildings, such as a rooftop coworking lounge by day and movie bar by night, and a “backyard” for tenants to picnic or recreate. The developer, says Burns, took over the maintenance of the adjacent state park to expand tenant and community use of the outdoor spaces.

Bringing Work-From-Home to the Office — Landlords Aim to Add Peace, Privacy, and Green Space

Companies trying to create the future of office space have their hands tied until a coronavirus vaccine is found and a better view of what the world looks like post-pandemic emerges.

Still, office experts predict a changed landscape for employees no matter what happens with the virus.

The biggest transitions will evolve naturally from office buildings having to compete with work-from-home benefits — namely easy access to food, quiet workspaces and the ability to walk in a nearby park or green environment midday for rest and rejuvenation. “I think we were very much heading in the direction of wellness and healthier building design and operations prior to COVID,” Hall Group Director of Leasing Kim Butler said on Bisnow’s Aug. 18 webinar, “Mind over Matter: The Psychology of Building Design and Wellness.”

Having millions of Americans work from home at once simply accelerated this shift, Butler said. She’s already seeing employees return to work with a mindset that they want the best elements of working from home in the office. The younger workforce is used to having plenty of food options nearby or downstairs, so office environments are likely to become a greater mix of offering friendly hospitality solutions with comfortable locations for employees to converse and collaborate without returning to the loud open workspaces that dominated much of the workspace prior to the pandemic. “I have seen a tremendous difference being back in the office at Hall Park,” Butler said. “I have never seen so many people out walking. I think that [carries] over from shelter-in-place and work from home. I think a lot of people are bringing those types of habits that they learned and liked about improving their workday to the office environment or the workspace environment.”

Green spaces have always had a lure in office environments, but they are likely to become sacrosanct post-coronavirus, Butler said. Perkins and Will Associate Principal and architect Mary Dickinson said architects will be asked to better connect the exterior and interior spaces of an office environment, so both areas flow seamlessly for guests and tenants. This includes everything from terraces to balconies and walking trails, she said.  “The challenge for designers is how to make it so [the space] is hospitable and comfortable,” Dickinson said. On one hand, the space needs to be outside, but it also has to be cool on hot days and warm on cold days.

Even if these designs present more development challenges and spatial considerations, they are slowly becoming less of an amenity and more of a central wellness solution.  “With wellness becoming more a part of the conversation and an expectation [within] workplaces, it has become more of a norm for us to have [indoor-outdoor] space as part of our design as opposed to it not being incorporated or not solving for it and including it,” Dickinson said.

Japan’s Tokyo Toilet Project Looks to Improve the Perception of Public Restrooms

When it comes to toilets, nobody does them quite like Japan. Often times equipped with lights, multiple settings, and remote controls with more buttons than most modern day television remotes, Japan looks at toilets as a symbol of its world-renowned hospitality culture.

But even in Japan, the stigma surrounding public toilets exists; they can be dirty, stinky, and a place where one wants to spend as little time as possible. But now, thanks to The Tokyo Toilet project, 16 designers and architects from around the world are redesigning 17 public toilet locations throughout Shibuya to make it a much more pleasant experience when nature calls away from home.

Five toilet locations, including two from Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, have already opened on July 31 and Aug. 7. Shigeru Ban’s designs, located in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park and Haru-No-Ogawa Community Park, feature an all-glass design that allows people to see from the outside if the restroom is clean, as well as if anyone is currently inside. Once a stall is locked, the glass turns opaque. At night, the restrooms light up like lanterns in the park.

The restroom located in Ebisu East Park, designed by architect Fumihiko Maki, functions as both a public restroom and as a public space that serves as a park pavilion equipped with a rest area. A fourth restroom, located in Higashi Sanchome and designed by product designer Nao Tamura, features a completely red exterior with a design inspired by Origata, a traditional Japanese method of decorative wrapping. The restroom includes three separate spaces to redefine the way a public bathroom establishes personal space.

The fifth restroom, located in Ebisu Park and designed by interior designer Masamichi Katayama/Wonderwall, takes its inspiration from a Kawaya, a hut that stood over a river. The purposefully ambiguous space is simultaneously an object and a toilet by randomly combining 15 concrete walls. The spaces between the walls lead users into three different areas designed for men, women, and everyone.

All of the facilities will be maintained by the Nippon Foundation, the Shibuya City Government, and the Shibuya Tourism Association. The remaining facilities are tentatively scheduled to open between Sept. 7, 2020 and the end of 2021.

Back to Basics: Framing Big Buildings Right

The demand for commercial and multifamily construction remains high, and the framing industry is expanding to meet this demand. But with inexperienced workers on site, rookie mistakes happen, and sometimes they’re expensive.

APA Engineered Wood Specialists provide training for builders, framers and project managers working on large wood-frame projects—training workers new to the industry, as well as crews switching to large wood-frame projects from concrete and steel. Because so many framers are new to the industry, the training for large wood-frame building covers the basics, like spacing OSB and plywood panels 1/8 inch at their edges and the importance of following the nailing schedule.

Crews need to understand the load path, a fundamental concept for framing. Is everything accounted for top to bottom? Does it stack? Where do you install hangers and blocking as the building goes up?

A training approach that covers the basics, the theory and the real-world application helps new framers see the big picture and get up to speed on their skills. This includes beam and joist installation; the dos and don’ts of installing, cutting and notching beams; as well as the design theory that goes behind the guidelines. Another important concept is moisture management, from knowing which materials need to be kept dry to understanding the influence moisture can have on the construction project as a whole: With any building that’s longer than 80 feet in length, special precautions must be taken to prevent accumulated panel expansion in the floors or in the roof assemblies.

APA’s Frame it Right: Back to Basics for Big Buildings on-demand webinar offers basic framing guidance and training, including:

  • The consequences of framing mistakes throughout a building
  • Load path, both vertical and lateral
  • Framing structures from the ground up (including walls, floors and roofs)
  • How to properly anchor bolts and the importance of hold-down hardware
  • Minimum recommended fastening
  • The different types of shear walls
  • Various framing layouts
  • On-site moisture management and shrinkage
  • How to use APA resources to prevent mistakes

View Frame it Right at www.apawood.org/frame-it-right. AIA and ICC credit is available.

Florida Becomes the Third State to Adopt Concrete Repair Code

Florida recently became the third state to adopt the American Concrete Institute’s latest code for repair of concrete structural elements in buildings.

ACI 562-19 Code Requirements for the Assessment, Repair and Rehabilitation of Existing Concrete Structures will be effective Dec. 31, 2020, when the seventh edition of the Florida Building Code becomes law. The code change establishes minimum requirements for design, construction, repair, and rehabilitation of concrete structural elements in buildings for various levels of desired performance as deemed appropriate for the project.

“In addition to improved life safety, the requirements clearly define objectives and anticipated performance for the code official, owners, designers, contractors, and installers,” according to an ACI news release.

“Adopting ACI 562 provides the public a level of expectation regarding life safety and overall performance where repairs or rehabilitation are performed on concrete structural elements,” said Ronald G. Burg, PE, executive vice president, American Concrete Institute.

How Has Shopping Changed Over the Past 100 Years? A Look at the Evolution of Retail

Remember what visiting the mall felt like? You contend for a parking spot, find the location of stores on the mall map, stroll from store to store, grab a sandwich at the food court, and then return home satisfied with bulging shopping bags.

Now, things look a little different. While malls still exist, the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures have forced retailers to adapt, prompting an even bigger emphasis on delivery and curbside pickup. This has accelerated the decline that many retailers were already facing because of online shopping—Amazon now traffics over a third of all retail products bought or sold online in the US.

Retail has changed in a big way. Let’s look at some of the forces that are shaping the shopping experience for customers. These changes affect many groups of people, including mall owners, developers, store owners, and shoppers. We’ll explore traditional malls, big-box stores, outlet malls with street-like environments, online shopping pressures, enhanced food halls, and the transformation of malls into mixed-use spaces. Perhaps most importantly, we’ll provide some perspective on how to navigate a mall redevelopment.

So, here’s a brief look at how the retail landscape has transformed—and where it’s likely headed.

HOW THE RETAIL FORMAT HAS CHANGED

Where did the shopping mall come from? Well, the air-conditioned retail behemoths that we mentioned above originated in the US suburbs when the first enclosed mall, Southdale Center, appeared outside Minneapolis in the 1950s. Ever since, this retail format has increased in popularity through subsequent decades.

The indoor malls often featured anchor stores and smaller shops on multiple floors, plus a food court. Over the years, malls injected all kinds of other entertainment elements into the retail experience. They became destinations for families, teenagers, and even tourists. Near our office in Mississauga, Ontario, Erin Mills Town Centre opened in 1989 and once boasted beautiful fountains, mini golf, an arcade, a movie theatre, and a large clock tower. A family could spend nearly an entire day at the mall, as the mall acted as a sort of community center where people could shop for products but also interact with others and experience cultural events.

Malls were hubs that brought a level of excitement to a town or neighborhood—something that Netflix viewers can see in Season 3 of ‘80s-set Stranger Things, where the new Starcourt Mall becomes the centerpiece of the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.

Eventually, companies looked to try a different store format by introducing the big-box shopping experience, which features big, free-standing structures located in the middle of a parking lot. These stores provide more shopping space and give customers access to a wider variety of products. Most customers access these big-box stores by car, and the lack of interior connections between retailers means that people need to walk—or drive—between stores.

In the last decade, we’ve seen further changes. The Vaughan Mills mall near Toronto, where we performed the civil engineering work, brings a new style of shopping. Vaughan Mills adds an outdoor element to the big-box experience where storefronts look out onto private little ‘streets.’ This emphasizes the outdoor experience and provides a street-like environment where people feel like they’re shopping in a dense urban area even if they’re in the suburbs.

THE PRESSURES FACING THE RETAIL LANDSCAPE NOW

What does the retail landscape look like these days? Well, the online shopping experience has altered things. According to a recent CouponFollow Millennial Shopping Report, US-based millennials make more purchases online than in physical stores. And, as we look to the future, younger millennials are even more likely to shop online than older ones. It looks like the concept of the ‘mallrat’ is becoming extinct.

Big warehouses have appeared in suburban areas to stock items that people purchase online. In some cases, the now vacant anchor stores of the malls are even being repurposed to become warehouse for online retailers. Customers prioritize convenience as they receive electronics, clothing, groceries, and household items at their doorsteps.

These pressures have pushed traditional shopping malls to innovate. Malls are becoming engaging places and cultural hotspots where people can experience things. This is reminiscent of the original vision of a mall as a community center. These days, instead of just passively shopping, visitors can also meet at a variety of restaurants or take in several entertainment options.

When it comes to mall interiors, we’ve noticed some changes and have discussed them with architecture colleagues of ours. Stephanie Tyrpak has some good ideas on how malls can reimagine their interiors to make them more appealing to today’s shoppers, including creating a footpath that meanders through the concourse to create a more playful experience, providing an area for makerspaces, and encouraging pop-up cafes and kiosks.

The food experience has also become enhanced. Instead of food courts, malls are starting to feature food halls – ritzier spaces that provide a range of food options and unique opportunities for socializing. The Food District at Square One in Mississauga entices visitors with artisan merchants, themed events, cooking classes, and a night market with samples, prizes, and a DJ.

As we mentioned earlier, it will be fascinating to see how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the shopping experience and retail spaces. Will online delivery be the main way customers receive goods? Will retailers rethink their entire business model, especially if they’ve experienced strong online sales during the pandemic? Insiders have noted that the pandemic will likely accelerate retail bankruptcies. If developers lose retail tenants because of the shift to online sales, they’ll be looking to utilize those spaces for other purposes and to fulfill different needs.

THE FUTURE OF RETAIL

So, what’s coming next? What can we expect from shopping in the future?

We believe shopping will function as a key part of the community public realm. Developers are making a strong push to add residential components, pedestrian-friendly trails, and parks to their malls—revitalizing the old, enclosed mall format and turning those areas into mixed-use spaces. As Jason Beske from our Urban Places team (who’s focused on leading suburban retrofits, including mall redevelopment) notes in his report Repurposing Retail Centers, a successful mall redevelopment project often provides a community with significant economic and social benefits.

Our work with the historic Cloverdale Mall in Toronto, in collaboration with QuadReal Property Group, provides a good example of this concept. Cloverdale will become a major live/work/play community, featuring multi-generational residences, restaurants, fitness facilities, all-season parkland, arts and culture programming, and retail options that speak to the day-to-day amenities that people need like grocery, food and beverage, and lifestyle retailers. The new mixed-use urban community will keep the Cloverdale name to honor the site’s 63-year history.

Colleagues of ours have brought similar thinking to the Dayton Mall Area Master Plan project in Ohio. Our teammates have created a plan that can turn the Dayton Mall area—where two square miles of car-oriented development surround the shopping center—into a walkable, economically competitive urban village.

We’re also impressed with the work being done by colleagues on the Oakridge Centre, a cornerstone shopping mall in Vancouver that has been around since the 1950s. Over the next decade, Oakridge Centre will double its retail size and welcome a series of residential buildings to the neighborhood. There’ll be children’s play areas, a community center, and millions of residential square feet.

As a final example, we’ve also been working with SmartCentres, historically known as a big box retailer, to redevelop several properties by adding residential units, storage facilities, or assisted living components in place of parcels that were previously anticipated to house retail buildings.

BRINGING MALL REDEVELOPMENT TO LIFE

There are several important elements to keep in mind when you’re starting a mall development project. How can you jump-start these projects? Well, you need to make sure you’re doing your due diligence by considering:

  • Proper engagement: It’s vital to engage your local elected officials, members of the public, and all other stakeholders to understand the needs of the community. If you’re considering repurposing a space, that — information is essential
  • Regulatory considerations: You need to understand the regulatory hurdles and planning challenges associated with the change of land use
  • Existing tenant relocations: Developers need to have discussions about the existing tenants of a mall. Do those tenants fit into the vision of the new community? Do some of those tenants need to be relocated?
  • Infrastructure and utility constraints: The age of the mall is a factor as well. To meet the demands of the repurposed space, you’ll likely have capacity challenges related to water and storm and sanitary. These challenges need to be addressed and considered from a costing perspective. Aside from aging infrastructure that may require an upgrade, you’ll probably have to make changes regarding resilience planning, as requirements have changed over the years
  • Legal survey considerations: Quite often, developers need to subdivide their mall property into a series of smaller properties to accommodate the variety of uses that are planned. This will lead to more approval processes as well as a need to disentangle old infrastructure between future development properties
  • Transportation systems: When repurposing your space for the residential market, future-proof to the best of your ability when it comes to transportation systems. Can you incorporate reliable connections to create a transit-oriented development? Are you providing people with options for walking, cycling, transit access, and parking? How could autonomous vehicles play into your vision? Will your design provide sufficient flexibility to take advantage of evolving municipal parking guidelines?

RETAIL WILL PROBABLY ALWAYS EXIST

In the end, it’s a reality that things change. Shopping malls likely look different from what you experienced when you were younger. But it’s exciting to consider what the future might hold. Humans will always be buying things, but we’ll be doing it in different ways. It’s time to get ready for the next change in the retail landscape.

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