STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Here's how malls with dead stores are finding new tenants

A term coined in 1869 has become an annual event for retailers.

Posted: Nov 26, 2019 2:50 PM
Updated: Nov 27, 2019 3:30 PM


Many retailers that populated the nation's malls have run into severe financial stress or gone out of business in recent years.

But the shopping mall isn't dead yet, as mall owners find creative ways to fill those vacancies. The giant spaces that once housed a single anchor tenant are being reconfigured to attract multiple smaller shops. Empty stores are being filled with new kinds of tenants--hospital offices, pop-up shops for digital brands and even sports centers.

'Every large retail owner is being faced with anchor closures,' said Kurt Ivey, vice president of marketing for mall owner Macerich. But he added that companies with A-list malls in top markets should have no problem finding new tenants.

Ivey said his company has numerous malls where what was once a giant anchor store is now divided among numerous tenants.

A former Sears in Macerich's Kings Plaza mall in Brooklyn is now filled with four different retailers: fast fashion chains Primark and Zara, a JCPenney and Burlington Stores.

And what was once a Barney's in Scottsdale, Arizona is home to a co-working location from Industrious -- a competitor to struggling WeWork -- and an Apple Store.

More than 56,000 square feet in a shuttered Sears in the Wilton Mall in upstate New York will soon be home to the information technology division and other office support staff of Saratoga Hospital. The move frees up space at the hospital to offer more in-patient health care services.

'It's all about reusing space and finding the proper mix,' Ivey said.

The mall is the new rec center

An executive at mall owner Washington Prime Group was exceptionally blunt in a recent earnings release, using a choice word to refer to such bankrupt retailers as Bon-Ton Stores, Sears, Toys R Us, Charlotte Russe, Gymboree, and Payless ShoeSource.

'While I am absolutely not defending these ne'er do wells or any of their crappy counterparts,' said Washington Prime's CEO Louis Conforti, 'there exists a disproportionate amount of negativity with respect to our sector as compared to other industries.'

He noted that recreational sports center company Fieldhouse USA will take over as an anchor at Sears locations that Washington Prime Group owns in malls in Columbus, Ohio and Aurora, Colorado.

Conforti added that a Sears in Boardman, Ohio is in the process of being demolished and replaced by an indoor golf center and other athletic and entertainment venues.

Experiences are proving to be just as important as hunting for bargains.

That's why Macerich and PREIT, another real estate firm, opened a City Winery as a key tenant in their jointly-owned Fashion District Philadelphia, a new mall that replaced the former Gallery shopping center in the heart of the city. The venue also hosts live music events.

Consumers increasingly want to do more than shop when they head to the mall, added Randy Ruttenberg, founder and principal of Fairmount Properties. The company has more than 20 mixed-use shopping centers across the United States.

'With any projects we've developed, it's about how we get people to gather. It's not just about commerce,' Ruttenberg said. 'An equal amount of effort is need to make sure a project stays relevant and fresh.'

Niche stores are the new black

The company's newest development, Pinecrest in Cleveland suburb Orange Village, is a good example. Ruttenberg said that Pinecrest, which opened last year, is home to such trendy retailers as eyeglass seller Warby Parker, custom suit maker Indochino as well as bowling and bocce venue Pinstripes.

'Our primary role as a developer is to drive traffic and make sure stores are productive enough so there is carryover traffic,' Ruttenberg told CNN Business. 'It's never easy when a tenant files for bankruptcy, but if a retailer is underperforming for any reason, it provides us the opportunity to bring in more relevant stores.'

Shopping centers are also increasingly targeting digital brands. Macerich's Ivey said that the company even has a program called BrandBox that works with e-commerce companies to help them set up physical pop-up shops.

Macerich's Tyson's Corner Center in Virginia is home to stores from online retailers such as mattress company Nectar, braces and teeth aligner seller Candid and Gilly Hicks, the lingerie brand that has been resurrected by its owner Abercrombie & Fitch.

It just goes to show that malls in 2019 can no longer survive on the single, giant retailer that has something for everybody.

'As consumer preferences change, we have to give people more reasons to visit and keep shopping,' Ivey said.

Huntsville
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 64°
Florence
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 63°
Fayetteville
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
Decatur
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 62°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 84°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136055

Reported Deaths: 2364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19752350
Mobile13449292
Montgomery8852184
Tuscaloosa8654118
Madison792778
Shelby601349
Lee592760
Baldwin552650
Marshall396143
Calhoun353444
Etowah352145
Morgan331428
Houston292021
Elmore267348
DeKalb243221
St. Clair233036
Walker231984
Talladega217129
Limestone211920
Cullman190720
Dallas179126
Franklin178129
Autauga177325
Russell17633
Lauderdale172333
Colbert166626
Blount161715
Escambia161124
Chilton158830
Jackson158111
Covington140327
Dale139244
Coffee13596
Pike120510
Chambers116842
Tallapoosa116485
Clarke110016
Marion96829
Butler91339
Barbour8857
Winston74512
Marengo72420
Pickens66614
Bibb65610
Lowndes65427
Randolph65413
Hale64428
Geneva6344
Lawrence62123
Cherokee61213
Bullock60614
Monroe5908
Clay5878
Washington55913
Perry5416
Crenshaw54032
Conecuh53611
Wilcox53211
Henry5075
Macon48318
Fayette4628
Sumter43819
Cleburne3825
Lamar3702
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 192995

Reported Deaths: 2377
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30953459
Davidson26630306
Hamilton951995
Knox949779
Rutherford936189
Williamson531036
Sumner486598
Wilson351945
Putnam334940
Montgomery311144
Unassigned30425
Out of TN298627
Bradley296217
Madison292164
Sevier263815
Blount253524
Maury240924
Washington232836
Robertson222535
Sullivan219733
Hamblen193926
Tipton183219
Gibson170423
Trousdale16667
Hardeman158226
Wayne14995
Dyer138714
Bedford136417
Dickson127415
Coffee125413
Cumberland121718
Weakley120519
Fayette120419
Anderson120013
Obion119110
Henderson118924
Loudon11846
Carter117728
Greene116144
McMinn114625
Jefferson113014
Warren10757
Lawrence106713
Macon106721
Monroe105218
Hardin104716
Lauderdale99416
Haywood99221
Franklin9899
Lake9252
Roane9055
Carroll89920
McNairy89618
Bledsoe8624
White8479
Rhea84412
Hawkins82218
Cheatham81510
Marshall7785
Overton7586
Cocke7549
Smith73111
Johnson7262
Chester64310
Giles63117
Henry6289
Lincoln6241
Hickman5938
DeKalb57014
Crockett54219
Marion5338
Decatur5307
Fentress5263
Campbell4544
Claiborne4425
Polk39910
Grainger3863
Union3642
Benton3379
Jackson3315
Morgan3203
Grundy3095
Cannon2920
Unicoi2891
Humphreys2583
Sequatchie2381
Clay2335
Meigs2283
Houston2243
Scott2172
Stewart2142
Lewis2041
Moore1791
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1232
Hancock1083

Community Events