Malls are not dead. Despite the fact many California malls now contain dark and empty retail space where thriving department stores used to be, experts say mall managers are seeking a different kind of commercial tenant to fill the vacant spaces. While tenants like Sears, J.C. Penney and Saks Fifth Avenue traditionally held the position of anchor stores, those spaces may now house more exciting offerings.
Thinking outside the box, mall landlords have not wasted time seeking tenants to replace the bankrupt retail chains. Online shopping has brought the demise of many brick-and-mortar stores, and people seem to be less willing to visit malls for items they can purchase more conveniently from their own computers. Because of this, empty anchor stores are now being repurposed into restaurants, supermarkets and entertainment.
Some of the more interesting uses for empty anchor stores include bowling alleys and laser tag. One mall in another state transformed a former Nordstrom into a Crayola Experience. Still other malls are opening arcades and karaoke sites for their customers. Of course, restaurants and supermarkets are common destinations, and many malls now host Outback Steakhouse, Fig and Olive, Wegmans or Whole Foods where their department stores used to be.
Some California landlords realize that these new breed of commercial tenant typically pays higher rent per square foot than department stores did, making the change even more palatable. As the future of malls evolves, both landlords and tenants will certainly be examining the terms of their leases. To ensure they are treated fairly, they have every right to seek the advice of an experienced real estate attorney.
Source: Forbes, "Experts See A Brighter Future For Malls As Department Stores Exit", Tom Ryan, Accessed on Oct. 22, 2017