Sears Canada announced last week that it will close 59 stores across the country, adding to the gloomy state of North American retail. This is just another in a long list of big-box closures: Target and Future Shop have left abandoned spaces across Canada, and America has seen a wave of store closures (including Kohl’s, Walmart, and Sears). Some of these abandoned spaces have been snapped up by other retailers, but many have left huge gaps in our shopping centers.
What should retail centers do with all this space? That might be a question for owners and developers to tackle together. Some are already repurposing big box stores—extending their retail potential, offering entertainment and dining, and creating new community spaces. The truth is, empty department stores have massive renovation potential—all you need is some creativity.
Not convinced? Here are three examples to spark your inspiration.
Just outside Philadelphia, Seritage Growth Properties repurposed a two-story Sears location for smaller retail locations. The space was renovated to accommodate two separate retailers: Dick’s Sporting Goods on the upper level, and Irish clothing retailer Primark on the lower level.
Meyer, Sherer & Rockcastle Design turned an abandoned Walmart into a library. It’s America’s largest single-floor public library, clocking in at 124,500 square feet. Plus, it’s a great addition to the McAllen, Texas community.
This might be the most creative renovation idea, and our favorite. In Round Rock, Texas, an abandoned Walmart was converted into a number of entertainment spaces, including a gym, smoothie shop, hair salon, and go-karting track. RPM Indoor Raceway took half the building’s space in total.