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re-purposing "big box" buildings into....

 
steward
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Check out what this Texas community did to re-purpose a closed Wal-Mart building.

My first thought was "this would be a wonderful place for a farmers market!" Then I saw they'd made it a library. Oh. Still good, to be sure.

Then I saw it's a library AND it hosts a farmers market (plus much more)! WOOHOO!!

This website is chock full of ads, so don't say I didn't warn you:  http://realfarmacy.com/city-abandoned-walmart-absolutely-brilliant-youll-love/
(Isn't it nice that permies.com isn't like that?)









And sooo many more cool images and uses of this space (once you get past the ads) in the link above. I love the idea of "big box" stores getting converted like this.

Such a happiness! It reminds me of the shopping mall converted to affordable housing (thought we had a post about that on here somewhere but I couldn't find it), and the shopping mall in Europe (was it Sweden?) that is all re-purposed/resold/thrift store/re-used/repair shop goods and services.

 
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McAllen, Tx. As south as you can get in Texas. Very close to South Padre Island, as well as a main entry point to Mexico.

I think most red fleshed grapefruit comes from that region.

To put Texas in perspective, I'm in Central Texas and it's about a 7 hour drive to get there.
 
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That's excellent!  Personally, I wish box stores and shopping malls were treated like Superfund sites- the owners putting money into a pot for reclamation when they (inevitably) go under.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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It's possible a lot of brick-and-mortar stores are going under due to online shopping. Though I'm not sure how inevitable that is in most areas.

Delivery trucks making the rounds for all those online orders and keeping individual vehicles off the road does save a lot on many fronts. I know it's my preferred way to shop!

So if we're ordering more online or re-using, re-purposing, or recycling to consume less, I love the idea of big box buildings becoming more like a community center as this one turned out to be.

There are malls that have converted too:
7 Dead Shopping Malls That Found Surprising Second Lives. These changed to:
  • offices
  • hockey rink
  • medical center
  • greenhouses
  • microlofts (residences)
  • high school
  • church

  • I'd read about the Rhode Island mall that converted to microlofts before, which I think has an appeal to urban permaculturalists. Here's a pic of how this mall - the oldest in America - has been re-worked to have mostly living spaces and only a few shops:



     
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    There may be a lot more opportunity for things like this in the future.  

    Some are calling it the "retail apocalypse", where a whole lot of retail and especially the big chains are, well, "highly leveraged" (i.e. in debt up to or past their eyeballs) and not doing well besides.  Online shopping I think has been blamed also.

    The recent demise of Toys 'r' Us is one example.  Some are predicting a bunch of other bankruptcies, closures, layoffs, etc.  Turns out that a lot of these things have been houses of cards from the beginning (lots of debt).

    Google it sometime when you're bored.....
     
    pollinator
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    It's been happening for quite some time, and first seen, I think, among retailers that relied heavily on the catalogue ordering model. A good Canadian example is Sears, but other department stores here have been feeling the pinch for decades for other reasons.

    I think the big box model squeezed out the generalist department stores. And for some reason, department stores failed to take their catalogues online in a manner effective enough to make the transition.

    I think it's that brand of free-market capitalism I like to call consumerism, where the system is supposedly set up such that in times of recession, the way to better times is to spend more. I don't think it actually works like that, and I think that as people feel the pinch, they spend less.

    Online shopping is letting us do that by comparing lots of different items at varying costs. Brick and mortar establishments just can't compete, considering the overhead involved in renting a commercial space and keeping stock on the shelves.

    So yeah, I think the malls of today will incorporate condos over time, especially considering the cost of rentals in some cities. If handled well, we could see malls turned into self-contained, self-sustaining communities, with lots of room for permacultural redesign to include food production, rainwater capture and storage, waste and wastewater treatment.

    Rooftops could contain gardens, solar arrays, or a mix of each.

    Ground-level parking lots could be torn up, the ground decompacted mechanically, topsoil brought back in, and a water and plant-permeable parking surface could be installed instead, offering sufficient structural support to allow for the parking of cars, but otherwise allowing pasture grasses and plants to grow right through it.

    Interior common areas could be converted to four-season growing spaces, gardens, and arboreta, nurturing food-bearing species otherwise unsuited to the climate outside of the building.

    In some malls, where skylights make up much of the roof, interior areas could even be retrofitted to grow a pasture grass mix on the corridors, providing forage for grazers.

    There are a great many permacultural opportunities here, as there are with many other cases of change leading to oversupply and waste. All we need do is make use of it.

    -CK
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    C Jones wrote:There may be a lot more opportunity for things like this in the future.  

    Some are calling it the "retail apocalypse", where a whole lot of retail and especially the big chains are, well, "highly leveraged" (i.e. in debt up to or past their eyeballs) and not doing well besides.  Online shopping I think has been blamed also.

    The recent demise of Toys 'r' Us is one example.  Some are predicting a bunch of other bankruptcies, closures, layoffs, etc.  Turns out that a lot of these things have been houses of cards from the beginning (lots of debt).

    Google it sometime when you're bored.....


    Yes, I think this article, posted by a permie friend on FB, sums it up well:  America’s ‘Retail Apocalypse’ Is Really Just Beginning.

    I was surprised at how much of it is debt and financial market related, not so much online ordering as I would have thought. Loads of charts in that article, including this one:





     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Chris Kott wrote:It's been happening for quite some time....<edit>

    There are a great many permacultural opportunities here, as there are with many other cases of change leading to oversupply and waste. All we need do is make use of it.

    -CK



    As Chris Kott wrote and as C Jones suggested, a quick google of "repurposed mall" shows loads more articles than the ones already linked in this thread.

    In doing so , I found this one, from my old stomping grounds, which actually happened at a mall that is still thriving (I think any way). They uncovered, restored and supported a creek going under a parking lot there!

    Thornton Creek Breathes Again at Northgate

    Not the best photo, since I think others show it with the plants more filled in and green, but this one is from the article:


    More greenery and living waterways in cities - yes, please!

     
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    Thank you for reminding me: I have been meaning to read Aerotropolis, about the way major airports have almost become self-contained cities.
     
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    This conversion of a big-box store into a type of community center I hope is embraced across the US and other countries.   With the closing of malls and factories that are no longer viable...the re-use of those structures conserves natural resources (that are embedded in the structure) and can help bring a community together.    This recently happened in Keene, NH with the conversion of a abandoned factory into a community center.   The conversion process, if done through broad community involvement and empowerment process, will also build local social capital and citizen democracy.

     
    pollinator
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    this is something that would be good to turn over to grant writers. grant writing is pretty hard, but someone with a knack for it could try their luck at grant writing proposals to fund such projects and restorations/transformations.

    but yeah in response to all the other threads of topics on this thread, some things, many things are falling down, and many things are building up. you can focus on one or the other or both, but it's happening regardless. i suppose it's best to focus on the building up part....the whole rebirth of the phoenix phase...i will call it.

    but yeah so very many things are on the verge or over the edge of complete collapse, due to the weight of it's own lack of integrity and sustainability..... best just to disengage as much from those systems so that you dont fall with it
     
    Jason Hernandez
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    Jim Gruber wrote:This conversion of a big-box store into a type of community center I hope is embraced across the US and other countries.   With the closing of malls and factories that are no longer viable...the re-use of those structures conserves natural resources (that are embedded in the structure) and can help bring a community together.    This recently happened in Keene, NH with the conversion of a abandoned factory into a community center.   The conversion process, if done through broad community involvement and empowerment process, will also build local social capital and citizen democracy.



    American Canyon, California is planning something similar. The city has no real downtown, just a commercial district of chain stores, and residential neighborhoods. But a derelict cement factory behind the commercial district has been slated for conversion into a downtown.
     
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    The data is a couple of years old, but if you go to https://www.statista.com/statistics/1058852/retail-space-per-capita-selected-countries-worldwide/ you will see that the US has many times more retail space per capita then most of the rest of the world.  We are talking about 5X for countries like the UK.

    I'm sure this has to correct.
     
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