Rethinking Retail Space in the Wake of COVID-19

As e-commerce boomed and people sought outdoor shopping and dining options, the pandemic accelerated the decline of massive, merchandise-oriented retail spaces and indoor malls.

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January 12, 2022, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Tysons Corner

Frontpage / Shutterstock

Longtime East Coast retail hub Tysons is experiencing major changes as the retail world adapts to the growing role of e-commerce and the disruptions brought on by the pandemic. According to an article by Jon Banister, "A series of new moves in the market, from longtime store closures to first-time openings to mall redevelopments, highlight how the Northern Virginia edge city is entering a new generation of its retail life cycle."

As part of the changes, older stores losing out to e-commerce will be replaced by service-oriented businesses like fitness centers and coffeeshops. With close to 70 percent of its retail space located within a quarter-mile of transit, Tysons has become a destination for shoppers from around the region. Meanwhile, the area's largest mall is continuing to redevelop its facilities for mixed use, building high-rise residential and office spaces on the site of former department stores, and new retailers are expressing significant interest in spaces near new transit stops.

As the popularity of indoor malls declines, cities and property owners are seeking new ways to adapt sprawling retail spaces and surface parking lots to denser, more transit-oriented uses. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for outdoor dining spaces and public parks, which will provide public health and economic benefits long after the pandemic.

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