You can file this one under trend potential. Much of the commercial real estate market is in dark times – especially retail and restaurants – and that’s pushing struggling malls to claim necessity as the mother of invention. The outlook for the strength of retail’s return is questionable since COVID-19 basically threw gasoline on the retail apocalypse fire. Locally the Johnson City and Bristol malls have futures that seem pretty clear-cut. But the Ft. Henry Mall in Kingsport is another matter. One economist commented this week during an economy/real estate briefing that the days of the traditional retail-centric malls with acres of parking are done. Mall owners are increasingly looking at repurposing some space for housing and entertainment venues to make up for the lack of retail. There are some interesting examples of repurposing some mall space for senior housing and the venues that cater to them. It’s something to watch.
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