Bohler’s Adam Benosky Offers Insight on Retail Repositioning

21 April, 2022

“It’s crucial to think beyond filling vacant stores with another big box retailer,” Managing Partner Adam Benosky, RLA told a local Wisconsin affiliate of USA Today. “[Local authorities] need to be adaptable and willing to get creative to consider new projects that will create spaces for people to live, work, and play.”

As big box retailers across the nation struggle, many shopping center owners are left dealing with large, vacant anchor spaces. Creative repositioning could be a solution. In a recent interview, Adam offers advice on identifying new opportunities for the vacant spaces and how to bring them to life.


1. Understand the Needs of the Community

Each community should do a marketing analysis to determine uses that would best meet its needs. Some areas might turn to entertainment centers or grocery store chains. Other communities might need more housing, self-storage, or warehousing.

2. Consider Adding Outparcels in the Parking Lot

Large lots present opportunities for new construction. Big box stores originally needed five parking spaces per 1,000 SF of retail space. Now, depending on the new uses, most sites would only need about half that parking space, leaving space for small retail outparcels like banks or drive-thru restaurants.

3. Save Money With Redevelopment

Between supply chain challenges and rising costs, redeveloping existing big box buildings saves developers time and money over ground-up developments. When you already have a roof, foundation, concrete, utilities, zoning, and parking, you can focus on the interior, get approvals faster, and open quicker.

4. Get Creative

As trends change, developers and communities need to keep up with what people want and need. While there’s still a significant demand for retail, the emphasis is on things shoppers can’t buy online. At Bohler, we’ve seen repositioning projects include movie theaters, grocery stores, indoor go-cart tracks, gyms, and other entertainment facilities. We’ve also seen developers find success in creating a mixed-use center that combines retail, residential, and restaurant or brewery spaces.

No matter how an owner or developer seeks to reposition empty space, the key is to partner with local leadership and community stakeholders. The project will likely need to be rezoned, so collaboration and integration can streamline the process.

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