Thinking outside the Big Box

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Turn-Key Properties LLC, Missouri and Kansas Real Estate

Reprinted from the Kansas City Real Estate Examiner ... ME!

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Thinking outside the Big Box!

Big box real estate seems to be a huge portion of the commercial vacancy as we move into 2010.

As retailers like Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart and Montgomery Ward vacate structures that were once the shopping, and sometimes cultural centers of existing neighborhoods, some neighborhoods are looking to see that space reclaimed.

Municipalities across the nation are seeing those vacancies as opportunities for change, often turning them into senior centers, libraries, recreational facilities and even schools. In some cases churches are acquiring them for social gatherings and additional meeting space.

A new book by Julia Christensen Big Box Reuse chronicles the change from "big box" to big opportunity around the country. Her website even has one location in Austin, MN; a former K-Mart that Hormel has turned into a museum of it's canned meat product SPAM.

As I outlined in The upside to commercial real estate in 2010; we will see more creative uses for these large big box stores as the demand for smaller space increases. Perhaps even dividing them into smaller office and retail space for start-up companies.

Around the Kansas City area many former big box stores have been turned into antique malls and thrift stores. With the addition of many recently vacated car dealerships many metropolitan areas like Raytown, MO; once Kansas City's automotive hot-spot, may have to consider allowing some creative rezoning in order to reclaim some of that lost revenue and fill some of those vacancies.

In these uncertain economic times some cities may have to reconsider their rigid stance on zoning and property usage. Raytown, MO is moving in that direction with the appointment of Tom Cole as the Economic Development Administrator. His job is to be the liaison between government restrictions and business development for the City of Raytown, MO. Hopefully making Raytown commercial real estate a more viable commodity in the coming year.


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Matt Grohe
RE/MAX Concepts - Des Moines, IA
Serving the metro since 2003

Ben: Certainly seems like there is a lot of opportunity for various groups to reuse these facilities. Several have been taken over by our county government in our area.

Mar 14, 2010 12:56 PM #1
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

In Central VA, we have a major new Lowe's (#48) and Home Depot (#20) within 20 is picking up!!!

Mar 14, 2010 01:02 PM #2
Ben Edsall
Turn-Key Properties LLC, Missouri and Kansas Real Estate - Kansas City, MO

I would love to see a home improvement store take over the vacant Walmart in Raytown. I've spoken with the the folks at Menards, Home Depot and Lowe's there doesn't seem to be any interest. I am now pursuing Westlakes Hardware and some others.

I live near a vacant Walmart and I really want to see something happen in my neighborhood.

Mar 14, 2010 01:27 PM #3
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