Landlords Eye Revenue Potential of Parking Lots

October 22, 2020

Large retail parking lots may not traditionally reap profits, but retail landlords these days are finding new ways to turn those large outdoor areas into something that can.

Shopping malls and parking garages are opening their space to events such as haunted houses, open-air stores, job fairs, drive-through COVID-19 testing, drive-in movies, and even gathering spots for seniors to play bingo from the car. Parking garage owners also are renting their spaces to delivery companies that need to distribute goods bought online.

The repurposed parking lots are bringing in foot traffic and revenue at a time when many brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling.

In Costa Mesa, Calif., a landlord built open-air outdoor luxury boutiques on the second floor of the parking garage at South Coast Plaza. In Roseville, Minn., parking lots are being transformed into drive-through haunted houses, which are offered daily for family entertainment. Flip Phone, the company hosting the event, says so far it has sold nearly 1,000 tickets for $75 per car. The hope is that after families do the drive-through haunted house, they’ll stay and dine or shop at the mall.

Some parking lots are being used to host senior events. Rob Peters Entertainment hosted a music bingo event at a community center parking lot in Hamilton, Mass. As they played bingo from afar, seniors listen to songs from the 1950s and '60s  from car radios.

Haunted Houses, Bingo Games, COVID-19 Testing. Parking Lots See More Action Than Adjoining Shops,” The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 20, 2020) [Log-in required.]