Retail Development Exec Says Malls Can Be Reborn Without Stores 

empty shopping mall

At least one executive is not ready to give up on malls.

Jeff Blau, CEO of New York-based global real estate and lifestyle firm Related Companies, said the hundreds of thousands of square feet of vacant space left behind at shuttered shopping centers can be transformed into apartments or offices, Bloomberg News reported.

“If we were to convert a Neiman’s and put a tech company in there with 2,000 employees, the traffic generated from incremental office space would bring much more business to the retailers down below than a different department store,” Blau said during a webcast on Wednesday, the news service reported.

Blau isn’t just talking theory.

Related Companies completed the $25 billion Hudson Yards neighborhood last year. Built on a 28-acre site, it includes a three-level Neiman Marcus store, a 92-story high rise, 143 condominiums, 22,000 square feet of private amenities and an Equinox club and spa with sweeping views of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline.

But on the heels of Neiman’s bankruptcy announcement last month, the 188,000-square-foot store is reportedly being shopped to potential office tenants.

In “Reinventing The Mall,” PYMNTS looks at how retail bankruptcies, instead of hastening the death of the mall, can bring opportunities for other uses.

As giant retailers close, landlords will consider anchor tenants that attract consumers to entertainment and experiences. For example, Simon and Allied Esports are building a project at the Mall of Georgia in suburban Atlanta that will result in a two-level, 13,000-square-foot dedicated eSports facility.

“The ultimate goal of any of these entertainment venues that we’re seeing pop up in malls now is to bring more traffic, to bring younger traffic than they might have been getting,” said NPD Group Senior Sports Industry Adviser Matt Powell.

As noted in “The Great Reopening,” PYMNTS found consumers are not as interested in shopping in stores or at supermarkets as they did before COVID-19. Recovery from the pandemic is no longer about how long it will take for life to get back to normal once the health crisis has passed, but about how long it will take for a “new normal” to emerge and what it will look like.



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