Monday, July 9, 2012
As big box retail continues to shed jobs and close locations, one major land use challenge facing cities is what to do with those huge stores. Last week, Slate detailed how one abandoned Walmart in was successfully repurposed into a public library:
Minneapolis-based architects Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. breathed fresh life into the warehouse, about as big as two and a half football fields, late last year, when they repurposed it as the country’s largest single-story public library. ... The plan was to establish a community gathering place, and it worked. Interim director Kate Horan says that the numbers of new registrations and book loans at the library are “through the roof.” “We used to be really busy on Sunday afternoons,” she added. “Now, every day is a Sunday afternoon.” [...]
[I]t’s not just Walmart stores that towns are taking back. Abandoned big-box stores are being repurposed across the country. Oberlin professor Julia Christensen documented ten such conversions in her 2008 book, Big Box Reuse, and a Wiki she set up shows as many as 27. Her website tells the story a North Carolina K-Mart turned charter school, a Florida Winn-Dixie grocery store turned chapel, and a Kentucky Walmart turned court house, among others.