5 Trends to Explore When Repurposing Retail Spaces

May 19, 2023

Bed Bath & Beyond filed for bankruptcy, plans to wind down its entire business.

From the Desk of the CEO

In the ever-evolving world of real estate, the transformation of retail spaces has become a focal point for innovative developers. As the retail landscape undergoes significant shifts due to changing consumer behaviors and the continued immersion of e-commerce into our daily lives, repurposing retail spaces has emerged as a compelling solution. It’s all about adaptive reuse.

1. Mixed-Use Developments
One of the most prominent trends in the repurposing of retail spaces, and one that we’ve been on the forefront of for many years, is the creation of mixed-use developments. Rather than limiting the purpose of a space to retail, developers are integrating diverse functionalities such as residential units, offices, entertainment venues, and community spaces. This approach not only maximizes the utilization of existing structures but also creates vibrant and sustainable environments that attract a wide range of people throughout the day and night.

2. Retailtainment Experiences
To compete with online shopping, retail spaces are transforming into immersive, experiential destinations. These spaces are now offering unique and interactive experiences that cannot be replicated online. We’re seeing former retail stores being converted into entertainment hubs with everything from virtual reality experiences, to gaming arenas, to escape rooms, and live performance venues. By combining entertainment and retail, developers can create memorable experiences that engage and captivate visitors.

3. Food and Beverage
The rising popularity of food and beverage establishments presents another opportunity for repurposing retail spaces. Former retail stores are being converted into trendy restaurants, cafes, and bars, catering to the growing demand for dining experiences. The integration of culinary offerings adds a social and communal aspect to these spaces, attracting patrons who seek not just a place to grab a bite to eat, but also a sense of community and connection.

4. Big Box Splitting
There have been many instances of large box stores being repurposed into smaller retail spaces. In some cases, it’s subdivided into separate retail units, each with its own entrance and signage. Another approach is to convert to a multi-tenant retail complex, where the space is divided into several smaller units but operates as a unified shopping destination. This may involve creating a central atrium, shared common areas, or reconfiguring the layout to accommodate a mix of retailers, restaurants, entertainment venues, or even office spaces. These repurposed retail spaces can provide opportunities for local businesses, smaller retailers, startups, or niche market ventures to establish a presence in a previously inaccessible location. It also allows property owners to generate income from the vacant space and revitalize the surrounding area.

5. Health and Wellness Centers
In an era where health and wellness have taken center stage, retail spaces are being repurposed to cater to this growing demand. Fitness studios, yoga centers, spas, wellness clinics, and even the phenomenon that is pickleball are finding their homes in former retail locations. Developers are capitalizing on the shift towards holistic well-being by providing dedicated spaces that promote physical, mental, and emotional wellness.

The transformation of retail spaces through adaptive reuse represents a remarkable shift in real estate development. As the consumer landscape continues to evolve, it’s crucial that developers also evolve and mature to create modern destinations and memorable experiences that meet the changing needs of the marketplace. We have seen this shift firsthand and are championing this evolution at our retail centers across Ohio, New York, and Arizona. With ICSC Las Vegas just a few days away, we’re actively seeking new and innovative ways to repurpose retail spaces at our properties. If you think your company or service fits the bill, let’s talk.


Ezra Stark
Chief Executive Officer