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Anchor’s Away – What to Do With Empty Anchor Space

by | Apr 18, 2019

I’m sure you’ve heard the news and have seen the signs, especially around Hunt Valley. The almost-empty parking lot and barely any foot traffic – Sears has announced that the larger portion of their retail stores are going to close.

In fact, throughout the Baltimore region, there are a good number of Sears units that have already closed. And much like in Hunt Valley, the developer has not yet announced a plan on how to replace the store.

Across the United States, this same scenario has playing out with Kmart, Mattress Firm, Toys R Us, Best Buy and even some Victoria’s Secret locations. Over their lifetimes, most of these stores were premiere anchor stores – often the sole reason people went to a specific retail development to shop.

So, how do you replace them with a better option for the health of the development?

A Land of New Opportunities

It used to be that the only viable option to replace failing retail was luring a successful retail chain to take over the space. Now, there’s a world of creative opportunities.

With the rise of mixed-use developments, any location is ripe to bring in retail, professional offices, residential and professional services. Your retail space is really now open to anything.

In Belvedere Square, Ryan’s Daughter, an Irish pub and restaurant, has been replaced by a ChoiceOne Urgent Care center. Everything from theatres, public libraries, post offices and experiential space is on the table.

Just look at the Columbia Mall. The landlord took back the second level of a Sears store and created a fun, experiential space that includes a bowling alley, game room and restaurant sports bar. As the landlord, the trick is to get the best idea of what will work in space that’s soon to be vacated.

Conduct a Market Study

No two situations are the same when it comes to replacing an anchor store, so it’s best to do a market study. A proper study will help you ascertain what the logical unserved demand within that market might be. Nowadays, there are no rules. The new anchor can be something you would have never thought to put into a shopping center twenty years ago – or even five years ago, for that matter.

Creative thinking will be key to the success of the center. If you’re just looking to fill a hole, you’re most likely walking into a trap. If you’re looking at arbitrary tenant replacement just to get someone to pay rent, you’re not looking at what’s attractive to current and future markets. Consequently, the new tenant is less likely to last and won’t help improve the overall health of the center.

This scenario has already played out with the Sears store in Owings Mills. They took the first available tenancy as opposed to studying the market, and it wasn’t long before the replacement closed its doors.

Let Trout Daniel Help You

At Trout Daniel and Associates, we have a long history of helping landlords and development firms choose the right anchor stores for both immediate and future success. We are adept at predicting the changing trends of retail, and in determining what will lure customers and residents to your development.

Talk to a Trout Daniel and Associates expert today about the best steps to replacing anchor stores and empty retail space.

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