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Malls are turning empty space into co-work spaces

Empty left by mall staples like Barney’s, Toys R Us, and Sears, are being converted into shared office space. Mall owners are increasingly turning to unconventional tenants to fill some of the estimated 200 million square feet of retail space that’s closed or is expected to close since the beginning of 2017.

With plenty of open spaces from stores like J.C. Penney’s, Macy’s, and Hudson’s Bay, mall owners are expecting this trend to help slow the tide of dropping mall traffic.

The goal for these co-work/mall spaces is to create top-tier, built-in amenities for today’s professionals, which includes conference rooms, hi-tech broadcast rooms, and lounge areas. Many mall owners feel very confident that integrating co-working into retail will be a slam-dunk in urban areas.

For many potential customers the concept may be a great thing and in this era of on-demand, where we all want things now, many customers like that on their walk to work each day, they can pass an Apple store, a Make-up kiosk, a Shake Shack and a handful of other retailers and coffee shops that they would frequent anyway. Everything that they need is in one space... and there’s instant gratification.

The idea for some mall operators is that these co-working spaces will serve as incubators of sorts for new brands that could eventually run stores of their own within those locations. This could end up being really exciting for retailers, too. Retail real estate analysts agree there is a lot of appeal in bringing more co-working uses into retail. As tenants, co-working companies are typically signing normal- to longer-term leases, and these deals promise to bring more foot traffic to the property.

Mall co-work space operators are finding in general, that these retail spaces have all kinds of amenities that workers want…you can meet up with people, you have places to run errands, and you can grab a bite to eat all in the same area.

We at BHI, think the co-working in retail trend will continue, and we will be an extension of the community. This is the future!

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