Something New Inside Failed Big Boxes

When big boxes go under, they leave big holes. Communities across America are coming up with some creative ways to reuse the huge spaces left behind when big box retailers move out.

"By the late 1990s, however, Wal-Mart outgrew the space and moved to the outskirts of town. Downtown Wisconsin Rapids was left with a 120,000-square-foot shell and a giant parking lot. A neighboring shopping center suffered."

"Today, the old Wal-Mart has new life as the Centralia Center for senior citizens. "Had we not (done so) today it would still be sitting there blighted," says Mayor Mary Jo Carson."

"America's big-box experience is entering a new phase."

"Some towns continue to block megastores because they object to their economic impact on local merchants and the traffic congestion they can create. But thousands of other towns across the USA that welcomed them face a growing challenge: What to do with the cavernous spaces left behind by retailers such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Kmart when they downsize or expand elsewhere."

"A Kmart in Hastings, Neb., is a Head Start Early Childhood Center. Kmarts in Buffalo and Charlotte and a Wal-Mart in Laramie, Wyo., are charter schools. After Hurricane Katrina's devastation in Louisiana, the St. Bernard Health Center opened in government trailers in the parking lot of a closed Wal-Mart."

"Among the most unusual uses: An old Kmart in Austin, Minn., is the site of Hormel Foods offices and a museum dedicated to Hormel's famed meat product, Spam; the Peddlers Mall in Nicholasville, Ky., is a flea market and antiques mall where a Wal-Mart once was."

Full Story: Towns recycle abandoned stores


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