AMAC In The Media / Business / Opinion / Politics / Press Releases

COVID Helped Put Shopping Malls Out of Business; They’re Being Turned Into Housing—Including Affordable Housing for Seniors

shoppingWASINGTON, DC, Feb 26 – Online shopping has been a big winner as a result of the COVID crisis, spiking by triple digit percentages on a year-to-year basis, says the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC].  But it’s had a harmful effect on physical shopping destinations and across the country malls are taking a beating.

According to authoritative reports, more than half of the department stores in malls across the country will be shutting down in the months to come resulting in empty malls.  The Commercial Investment Real Estate Exchange put it this way on its Website: “First, the department store closes. Then, the apparel shops try to scoot out of deals. This is a one-two punch that could trigger a wave of malls shutting down for good over the next 12 months.”

Meanwhile, strip malls, too, are shutting down in large numbers.  “All in all, it’s bad news for the brick-and-mortar retail sector,” says AMAC’s CEO, Rebecca Weber.  “But there are those who believe that it could be good news for the nation’s expanding population of seniors in need of low-cost housing.”

In fact, there are a number of mall and strip mall repurposing projects underway across the country and there’ll be more in the future.  City-journal.org reports that there are currently at least 75 conversion projects on the drawing boards nationwide.

The Dallas based JHP urban design firm points out that: “The decline of traditional retail combined with a housing crisis and increased need for housing makes converting empty malls and other retail spaces into mixed-use developments one of the most attractive options to developers. This type of development combines retail, commercial and residential into one development, known as horizontal mixed use. In today’s world, the demand for retail space is down.”

For example, an abandoned mall in the town of Irondequoit, near Rochester, NY, is undergoing a conversion that will soon provide local seniors whose incomes are under 60% of the average in the community with affordable apartments.  According to the developers the maximum rent for a one-bedroom apartment will be $710 and for a two-bedroom unit it will be $1,023.

Perhaps one of the most interesting cases of such repurposing projects is the conversion of the Arcade mall in Providence, RI.  The Arcade is unique for two reasons: it was the oldest indoor shopping mall in the nation having been built in 1828; and it features what are likely the tiniest apartments of their kind.

Built in a grandiose Greek Revival style, including lots of granite stairs, walls and columns, it was converted in 2015 offering affordable studio and one-bedroom apartments for as little as $500 a month.  However, the 48 units, located on the top two floors of the building, range in size from 225 to 800 square feet; similarly tiny retail shops are located on the ground floor.

As AMAC’s Weber put it, “the price of affordability is size.  Nonetheless it provides renters with the ability to live in the vibrant heart of the city at a reasonable cost and the Arcade has consistently had a 100% occupancy rate and a waiting list of thousands of would-be occupants.”

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Hollowcreek
7 months ago

Don’t believe for a minute that old malls will be turned into affordable housing unless they are in areas with declining property values. The real estate is too valuable for other development. What goes unsaid is the huge bubble in commercial real estate, especially in retail space and how it could devastate the economy way worse than the housing bubble that caused the last recession. The developers have been robbing Peter to Pay Paul for years and Covid is advancing the due date on this huge bill.

Last edited 7 months ago by Hollowcreek
Jodi
7 months ago

So I just spent a few days in Disney World (Florida) and had the worst time ever. It was my husbands brothers birthday & we live on opposite sides of the state and both have motor homes. We met up in Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground. Not only is everything out of this world expensive like a quick 3 nite stay with park tickets, camping fees, 2 spaces and throw in a few meals easily cost a quick 4k … but it wasn’t magcal like days of old. Masks are required EVERYWHERE! The day in Epcot with a mask in the heat was like going to hell. Hey, a new theme park “A Day in Hell’!! LOL!
I’ve been treated 2 x’s this past year by my doc for sinus infection and after a day in a mask everything on the inside burned. I went out of my motor home in the very early morning hours to jog around the campground and we were reprimanded by the garbage guy to get our mask on. In Epcot the help watches everyone and multiple times reprimanded us for having it below our nose. Only masks that entirely cover your nose and under the chin were permitted and the help was more interested in your face covering then if you’re about to fall over! Some of them to the point of power trips. It was aweful! I imagine it would be like living in a communist country where all eyes are upon you. In addition more of the exhibits were closed, those that operated had lots of empty time while traveling thru them, for example … The powerful presentation on Norway is now ‘Frozen’ with just a few figures singing to you. And that was every exihibit, including the giant Earth ball. The meals were shortened menu and nothing but greasy food, many were shut down. My husband noticed Canada’s restaurant had nicer dining but guess what, we tried to call… impossible… then he walked in and was told we don’t answer our phones, you have to go thru the reservation system which in itself is an ordeal! And here’s a good one for you, my brother in law asked a lady standing around to wipe a few tables in The Crown (outside dining only) and she literally said “It’s not my job”!!! We NEVER had that experience before from Disney. In the Canada display (inside surround movie) they don’t put the lights down so they can see you and she walks around tapping people on the back for pulling their masks under their nose to breathe. I can understand reasonable measures of cleanliness but I felt like a spent a few days in a Socialist country and I really do pray and ask our Lord to guide our children to vote wisely for the future of our Nation. The young people are in control.

PaulE
7 months ago
Reply to  Jodi

Disney is one of the most “woke” corporations on the planet. Even before Covid-19, Disney was very pro-globalist and highly politically correct. They support virtually every “progressive”, politically correct cause out there today. They have bent over backwards to adopt standards mandated by the Chinese in virtually all their media content, in exchange for access to the Chinese marketplace. Why would you assume that a visit to their Disney World location would be anything other than a window into the kind of socialist paradise the left seeks to make our entire country?

Sorry that you didn’t have a good time, but there are a lot of other places in Florida you can go to that still treat people like human beings and not cattle to herded from one spot to the next.

Kim
7 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Disney–ha! That company nearly drove my brother to an early grave. He worked for them for 30 years as an electrical engineer under severe pressure to do more. A tyrant for a boss.
I went out yesterday to buy some vegetable plants and also looked at masks. Disney has a line of face masks for adults and children, some nice designs, ALL MADE IN CHINA. I mean, really. Couldn’t they find an American company to supply masks?

The Ugly Truth
7 months ago

Amazon can buy them up for distribution centers, and others for warehousing of helpless seniors. The gov’t would be paying rent to Jeff Bezos the richest SOB in the world. Isn’t that nice..

Pat
7 months ago

It would take at least two decades for anything like this to be done in California. It takes at least two years to get a permit for a simple project!

The Ugly Truth
7 months ago

Most of the malls I’m familiar with have just a few centrally located bathrooms. It would require a major teardown and redoing of plumbing to have a complete bathroom for each unit. I guess our gov’t could “afford” to renovate these giant ghost towns into Welfare Warehouses for the elderly. That is until today’s youth get tired of paying to house old people they already hate anyhow.

Nick
7 months ago
Reply to  The Ugly Truth

We actually want housing and healthcare for everyone, no matter what age and whether or not they agree with our views.

The Ugly Truth
7 months ago
Reply to  Nick

That sounds like socialism doesn’t it.

Nick
7 months ago
Reply to  The Ugly Truth

Sure does. I’m sorry if that triggers you, but I also believe in universal free mental health care so you genuinely can have a safe space to discuss your feelings.

Terrg
7 months ago

I prefer shopping in person. I do shop on line but only order brands I know fit me. It’s a gamble. I have to make a return this week. Item didn’t fit. I don’t shop on Amazon. If they have something I want, one of my kids will order it for me and I pay them back. They have Amazon prime. More people should do that with their families. Only one person needs to join to get the free shipping. The shipping fee is also a drawback to online shopping plus hassle of returning.

Christopher
7 months ago

I still believe the country over reacted economically to COVID by attacking small businesses and leaving places like Walmart and Costco alone. It was a deliberate attack on small businesses by the democrats.

David B.
7 months ago

We just returned from a local Dillards shopping trip- and found, then TRIED ON three nice items of clothing that all together normally sold for over $150- cost us $35 total on the “Clearance Racks”! You gonna tell me you can duplicate that satisfaction on-line?

JAN C WOODS
7 months ago
Reply to  David B.

Right, but the fact clothes are getting so cheap and clearance racks everywhere are bulging signals retail businesses are hurting. When merch is close to free.

David B.
7 months ago

Yeah, put the masses into little pigeon holes- just keep them away from the rich folks.

Dave VanderZanden
7 months ago

I wasn’t a fan of malls and big box stores years ago and what they were doing to the small Main Street retailer so I won’t cry tears over this.Honestly it’s not a bad idea. I do respect the opinion of it could turn into senior slums. But it’s better than tearing them all down now that they are up anyway. The price of building supplies are so astronomically high right now it could make for some quick housing. Even though there will be substantial costs in remodeling, the heat, electricity and water are already there. There will be a lot of entertainment options, places to exercise, churches and restaurants. The social aspect is already built into the mall concept.

Turbo
7 months ago

Great centralize more economic, hence political power into fewer and fewer hands

Joy
7 months ago

I’ve been saying for some time that what they’re going to do is put all the illegals in the shopping malls that have closed

Richard
7 months ago

OK, so we’re going to make “Senior Slums” instead of wealth-generating stores. Sounds great. NOT!!!!!!

Charles Slattery
7 months ago

My wife and I enjoy and much prefer seeing and “feeling” apparell before buying. We often buy spontaneously. You are never sure what your getting when you buy from a picture and a brief write up.

Charlene
7 months ago

If it doesn’t fit, even though the web site says 100% satisfaction guaranteed, it’s probably from China and they NEVER guarantee anything. I speak from experience.

Rik
7 months ago

Only young people are more apt to shop online. I’ve just spent a week petitioning the Recall of Governor
Newsom in front of a Walmart Supercenter and believe me, people were shopping in mass numbers every day. I asked a manager if they knew as to how many people average a day and they didn’t know! But he did say that the store averaged $500K in sales per day! And if you didn’t know what a Walmart Supercenter is, it’s a regular Walmart and grocery all in one. I am amazed at the crowds of people and the fact that most can’t Park without having to walk a good distance. People are Social creatures and shopping online might benefit some but the majority want personal interaction.

PaulE
7 months ago
Reply to  Rik

Do you think you’ll get the necessary number of validated signatures to actually get Newsom out? I hear he has woken up and realized that he needs to disqualify as many petition signatures as possible to hold onto the Governorship. Which means he will seek to disqualify as many legitimate signatures as possible.

JAN C WOODS
7 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

PaulE, Yes Newsom will definitely try to do that. We had just over a thousand signatures in my county (very liberal place) and over three hundred were disqualified. If that percentage holds in too many counties, bad news. Totally illegitimate means to hold onto power, but until we the people figure out that we likely can’t change the corrupt system through use of the corrupt system itself, nothing will change.

Rik
7 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Hi PaulE, yes, but they’re now going to validate EVERY signature when of course they NEVER did for the Election!!! … Figures, right?

PaulE
7 months ago
Reply to  Rik

When their grip on power is at risk, then suddenly they are very concerned about validating every single signature. Anything to disqualify any challenge to their power. It is the socialist way.

Rik
7 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

I just learned 8 more days on the Newsom Recall and then 1 week off and then we get another Recall petition only this one for Gascon, the LA County prosecutor who is letting out criminals and not prosecuting any criminal behavior.

PaulE
7 months ago

The trend towards digital retail has been going on for years, with many large malls already facing declining foot traffic and loss of anchor businesses well before the Chinese delivered their Covid-19 “gift” to the rest of the world. A “gift” that the Chinese have yet to pay any real price for given the number of lives lost world-wide to Covid-19. Covid-19 just sped up the decline of most malls in this country by about 5 years in the space of one year’s time.

The repurposing of malls to serve other purposes, such as housing or distribution centers for the likes of Amazon and others is simply smart business for owners of these properties trying to maintain a revenue stream or cash out of a money losing segment of the real estate space. Yes, part of that repurposing will involve the creation of affordable housing options for seniors or simply the broader low income market. That is actually mandated by most states’ fair housing laws these days. A percentage of any residential housing must include some fixed percentage of so-called “affordable housing” (each state defines this a bit differently with strict income and other limits) in order for the overall project to receive the go ahead and necessary permits from local and state authorities.

Richard
7 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

“Affordable” never has been. Whether housing, health care, public works projects, anything. There are always costs–fiscal and social–that escalate and destroy lives, but they don’t fit on an accounting ledger for government bureaucrats and politicians to see.

PaulE
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard

I agree. So-called “affordable” anything from the government is merely a means to extract additional taxes, fees or other revenues from those seeking to build or productively utilize a privately owned resources in order to expand the role of government and enrich the government at taxpayer expense.

Don’t think for one second that the builder or property owner is going to eat the cost of any “affordable” housing units mandated by the government. The builder or property owner simply ups the price of the other market priced units to recover the money lost on the mandated “affordable” housing units. Thus penalizing the market based buyers. That in turn leads to a higher property tax bills for everyone in the development, when the overall project is appraised by the government. Layer upon layer of additional, unnecessary costs, because the government wants to pretend it is providing “affordable” anything through government mandates.

The so-called beneficiaries of “affordable” anything are incentivized to stay chronically poor and dependent on the government or lose their so-called “affordable” benefit. Thus creating a perpetual class of government dependent voters for the Democrat Party.

Pat
7 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

While the Chinese are responsible for unleashing covid, it was governors and mayors who unleashed the decline of businesses. States that didn’t do shut downs, are just as well off as states, like CA, that almost completely shut down, unnecessarily. If masks worked, why isn’t covid completely under control in CA where 98+% percent of the people obeyed the mandate? I’m often in businesses where I’m the only one not wearing a mask!! I don’t get sick; I keep my immune system strong, even though I’m in the “vulnerable” age range, at 77. This whole thing was political and a hoax!!

G Schalk
7 months ago
Reply to  Pat

Best way to keep an immune system strong is to expose it. Wearing a mussel (mask) will only prevent the immune system from working and doing it’s job. Use it or lose it. I call it a mussel because I can’t hear or see what the speaker is trying to tell me. Next time around, they (big world gov) will tell us that germs can enter and exit our bodies thru our ears, then require us to wear ear plugs. Bottom line, no more free speech, all communication must be done ‘on-line’, text messages gets collected by ‘the cloud’ and before you know it, it’s 1984!

Kim
7 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

I agree that these shopping malls have been clamoring for paying customers for decades before Covid accelerated their decline. Many years ago, I considered renting retail space in a “trendy” new mall, which was a fairly new concept at the time: retail, entertainment, services, and residential, with hidden parking garages, in a self-contained, walkable, and lavishly landscaped community. But that was before Amazon, wholesale shopping clubs, and online stores ruined it all for many traditional malls. Actually, that mall is doing well, last time I was there, but others in the area are failing or have failed miserably.

The commercial realtor I was working with said mall managers would rather hold onto an empty space for years before dropping the “triple net”, I believe it was called. That covered the per-square-foot rental, and lessors’ taxes and maintenance costs. As you said, the developers need to consider all options in order to stay in the black. Combining residential with shopping makes good sense, and Amazon…well, Amazon bulldozes anything in its way.

Because I hate seeing what’s happening, I shop local as much as possible to help keep these “old-fashioned” stores stay in business. President Trump’s policies were good for retail, and I hope we can see a return to prosperity in 2024.

PaulE
7 months ago
Reply to  Kim

Depends whether the Democrats get HR 1 enacted. If they do, then the same results will be repeated.

Barry Courtnay
7 months ago

This is another way to start to take freedoms from all of us. Not too many small businesses make their monies online. Most small businesses have storefronts. They need people to come to their store and look around. Amazon, Walmart, Target, and many more of these types of stores will actually have less of a payroll. They will not have the overhead they do now. Getting out of the house and going shopping has been part of America, for over two hundred years. Even when the west was still wild they went shopping. Also please look at what these stores stand for. I quit using Amazon when I realized who they donated too, and how they treated their employees. Jeff Bezos was all for mail-in ballots during the presidential election, then one of his stores in Alabama wanted to organize with a union. He came out and said there would be too much fraud in the vote if they allowed mail-in voting. Really! I don’t believe in spreading false news. So I have heard many time’s in the past couple of months about how our government, whats to reprogram us. So what does this mean? This is my opinion if you can put a bunch of people altogether, how much easier would this make it to reprogram them. This is also part of the GREAT NEW RESET. There are people that don’t want any American’s to own property, have their own car, be completely relied on by the government. They are saying this could all be in place by 2030 nine years away. My self I am not ready to give the government that much control. I hope soon we all could be outside playing with our kids, grandkids, dogs, or whoever you might want to be with. I am not going to let this china flu keep me from going where I want to go. If I run into people that really think that masks work I will have one to put one on. The time has come to go back to normal. I can not be afraid of the flu. Thanks

Boomer
7 months ago
Reply to  Barry Courtnay

Please say Wuhan flu instead of Chinese flu. Have you considered that Chinese in America generally are here because they don’t like how China operates and support individual and private property rights etc. more than most.

Barry Courtnay
7 months ago
Reply to  Boomer

Yes sir I will.

Judy gogolin
7 months ago
Reply to  Boomer

The Chinese have placed them here and around the world to infiltrate. Keep your eyes open!

Donald Vance
7 months ago
Reply to  Barry Courtnay

Repurposing empty malls and store fronts has nothing to do with government control. It has been happening for years. Lee County School District in Florida purchased an empty K-Mart store and turned it into a school. A mall in Baton Rouge is supposed to be converted into a warehouse. This process has nothing to do with the destruction of small businesses. Wal-Mart did that all by itself.

Barry Courtnay
7 months ago
Reply to  Donald Vance

Donald, I understand that some of the properties have been bought for good reasons. Now they’re talking low-income housing, the government will definitely have their hands in this. We have roughly thirty million illegal aliens about to enter the United State, where do you think they will be living? Thanks for your input.

G Schalk
7 months ago
Reply to  Barry Courtnay

Thirty million INVADERS will live any where they want to. Are you ready to walk the ‘trail of tears’? I am not a native American, but what goes around, comes around.

Pat
7 months ago
Reply to  Barry Courtnay

Just go out and live your life; don’t wait for a government entity to give you “permission”!! The Constitution gave you that permission!!

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