Dying Malls Could Give Birth to New Inventory

October 2, 2017

As housing shortages persist, developers are eyeing old shopping malls—which often include large parcels of land—for redevelopment into residential projects. In California, which is suffering from severely tight housing inventory, developers are jumping on the trend. A nearly vacant mall in the San Fernando Valley, for example, will soon be turned into a residential neighborhood with 1,400 homes, retail shops, and a concert venue. And a mall in Orange County will be transformed into a mixed-use development with more than 900 homes.

Such scenarios are playing out in cities across the country, as America’s malls struggle to compete with online shopping. “It’s a huge opportunity—probably one of the biggest,” Adam Artunian, vice president of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, told the Los Angeles Times. About 20 percent to 25 percent of malls in the U.S. likely will close within the next five years, according to a report from Credit Suisse.

Some mall owners are redeveloping their properties and trying to transform them into destination parks, with an emphasis on entertainment, restaurants, and outdoor boutiques. Housing is also key to these redevelopments. “You don’t have to reach out to your customer base because they live right there,” says Cynthia Murphy, who oversees nationwide mall leasing for commercial real estate brokerage CBRE Group.

Source: “Dying Shopping Malls Can Make Room for New Condos and Apartments, Helping Ease the Housing Crisis,” Los Angeles Times (Sept. 29, 2017)