by bill barber
The strip mall has been a ubiquitous presence on the suburban American landscape for a generation. At times of growth, the strip mall has been the fertile ground for business expansion – and in recession can become symbolic of the anemic state of business. Because the strip mall businesses rely heavily on mutual support from neighbor businesses, it suffers from a slippery slope: as more retail spaces empty, remaining retailers will flee to avoid being the only remaining business. For owners of these commercial properties, losing even one retail tenant can be the beginning of the end.
Commercial properties cannot remain empty for long. Unoccupied commercial spaces can be a magnet for crime, vagrancy and further blight. Occupancy must be the highest priority for the owners of a strip mall, and while traditional retailers may be taking the first steps towards an economic comeback, in many regions there simply isn’t enough demand for the empty spaces in traditional business. To weather the remaining storm, owners must look to non traditional tenants – some have found opportunities for growth in surprising areas.
The highest growth in the job sector over this last summer has been in the business of education – particularly in the for-profit education sector. Pima Medical Institute, which provides degree and certificate programs, has recently expanded it’s Houston campus in an unused strip mall along Interstate 10. Carrington College (formerlly known as The Apollo College Group) have almost exclusively opened campuses in malls during the last 5 years.
The building of minds is one business helping save the strip mall, another is the building of the soul – religion is moving into the unused retail spaces at an impressive pace. Churches are replacing the retail tenants, and keeping many of these strip malls afloat by providing the critical occupancy owners need. Expansion of churches in strip malls has increased so dramatically, it has achieved the pop culture status of having a dedicated blog: http://stripmallchurches.com/.
Some regions of the country have found such a partnership between the property owners and churches, that specialty real estate brokers have emerged. Orlando has a booming business of non-profit and faith based real estate services. This demand to fill the spaces is obvious – in a few months, over 250 Circuit City stores went dark with no retailer waiting to take over the space. This “Adaptive Re-use” of the retail space is playing a key role in the recovery of commercial real estate.
Surprisingly, the International Council of Shopping Centers does not track the data on what sectors are trending, and so they can’t confirm real numbers on this growth trend, but it’s apparent. Houston based International Church Realty confirms the trend, at least for southern states.
These new trends highlight the need for creative solutions to the problem facing commercial property owners today. In a challenging business climate, there are strategies that are working now, improving business and moving us towards a recovery. For ideas to help your property situation, look to Abacus Financial in which they can leverage buyouts of current retail outlets and transform it into a Church or educational center that might fit your needs.
Trail Potter is a contributor to the Abacus Financial writing team based in Houston, Texas. He has a background in financial planning with a focus on real estate and commercial growth patterns.
Abacus Financial (Los Angeles, CA) is the national expert in workouts of distressed commercial real estate borrowers and operating companies. Abacus is a national investment firm dominant in the specialized discipline of Value-Added Acquisitions.
Visit http://www.abacus-financial.net We Purchase Distressed Commercial/Industrial/Retail property today. Get Out From Under The Negative Equity Or Almost Foreclosed Property. Abacus Financial – 213 260 4811
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