Shrinking U.S. Shopping Malls Get Makeover

Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal

Overbuilding, e-commerce force landlords to get creative with new developments

austin-texas-mallVisitors used to flock to the Highland Mall in Austin, Texas, around the holidays to stroll through the city’s first enclosed shopping complex and admire the giant Christmas tree crafted from poinsettia plants.

But this holiday season, no shopping will be done there. Workers are converting the 600,000-square-foot structure into a campus for Austin Community College with classrooms, lab space and a culinary arts center.

Austin’s economy is strong and its population swelling, but Highland couldn’t attract enough shoppers to stay afloat.

“Competition came up and killed it,” said Matt Whelan, principal at developer Red Leaf Properties LLC, which is working with the college on the project.

An era of relentless expansion for American shopping centers is coming to an end as a toxic brew of overbuilding, the rise of e-commerce and a wave of retailer bankruptcies force landlords to reimagine once-lucrative properties.

Some owners are converting struggling malls into apartments, offices and industrial space, while others are turning big chunks of retail space into parks and playgrounds to keep shoppers interested.

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Grant funds youth violence prevention work in Camden

Reprinted from


CAMDEN – What happens when you restore rundown buildings that contribute to violence?

Camden is about to find out.

The Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center has received $6 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue its studies on how improving vacant properties affects violence, property crimes and intentional injuries among youth.

The Michigan center, based at the University of Michigan School of Public Heath, will focus on the effects of engaging residents, particularly youth, in caring for properties in their neighborhoods.

The study will be done in Camden, Flint, Michigan, and Youngstown, Ohio over the span of five years.

Marc Zimmerman, professor of health behavior and health education at University of Michigan, says the study will test a “greening” hypothesis — becoming more active in protecting the environment — and “busy streets theory” — which suggests that by taking care of abandoned, empty lots within inner cities, safer streets will be created.


Detroit’s other blight crisis: Commercial decay

Reprinted from

In Detroit, many residents live and shop near hulking vacant buildings that have been abandoned for years, places that attract crime, vagrants, graffiti and scrappers.

Many of these blighted buildings line well-traveled corridors throughout Detroit’s neighborhoods. But exactly who owns them and why they remain in terrible condition for so long remains a mystery to many.

Standing on her porch on East Outer Drive among a stretch of homes with well-manicured lawns and hedges, Tomika Brown, 41, described the multitude of problems associated with a giant, crumbling building across the street. The building is so rundown its hard to tell how it was originally used.

“It just be a lot of drunks stopping in there, scrapping,” Brown said. “I want to tell (the owner), ‘tear it down; do something with it.’ It’s an eyesore.”

Covered in graffiti, the building has all the classic signs of urban blight. There is practically no fencing around the perimeter, leaving it open to trespass. Brown said the grass had not been cut for about three months. The Free Press contacted the property owner’s lawyer. It was finally mowed sometime on or after Oct. 5, Brown said.

The indistinguishable structure at 3040 E. Outer Drive is among a handful of vacant commercial buildings throughout the city the Free Press examined in an attempt to shed some light on the properties’ prolonged abandonment and the monumental task the city is facing it having owners take responsibility for them.

The analysis underscored the complexity of the city’s commercial blight problem. While much attention has been given to getting rid of city-owned blighted residential structures, including the rising cost under Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration for demolition, little attention has been given to blighted commercial properties, whose ownership ranges from out-of-town speculators to the city itself.

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Northeast Ohio Old Malls Rot While New Shopping Centers Sprawl


Article Reprinted from

Even as vacancy climbs at Northeast Ohio shopping centers, ambitious developers are culling new land in far-out suburbs to build more shopping space.

The rotting malls and town centers residents abandon as they sprawl to newer and farther suburbs become the blight of a region, a recurring cycle of waste that leaves the region pock-marked with empty parking lots and caved in roofs.

By 2000, Northeast Ohio had amassed one of the largest surpluses of retail space in the nation, according to a report by the Cuyahoga County Regional Planning Commission. Even what was once the largest mall in the nation sat half empty in North Randall, development plowed on, at Legacy Village and SouthPark and Crocker Park.

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Vacant Property Maintenance & the Importance of Inspections


Vacant Property Maintenance Planning

Vacant property maintenance is time consuming and tedious. Having an extra property on your hands, especially one located remotely, provides challenges to maintaining your investment. Coordination, repair and proper reporting takes up precious time that you could use to grow your business. At Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP), we’ll inspect and maintain your property so that you can focus on running your business or division.  In this blog, we’ll discuss the key questions you should consider before determining a maintenance plan for your vacant property/properties.

Each of our clients has different property security needs.  These needs are based upon the geographic location of the property, the neighborhood in which it resides, the type of building or facility and the property’s overall condition.

Location, Location, Location

Your once prosperous locations has seen drastic change. That is probably one of the reason you needed to shutter the doors. What can you expect with your property? Properties in neighborhoods with high crime rates may need the following:

  • Graffiti or dumping checks
  • Break-in checks
  • Routine property inspection checks (based upon your needs)
  • Posting of “no trespassing signs”
  • Fencing installation and maintenance
  • Security lighting

Cold Climate

For those properties more exposed to climate change, we recomend regular site checks. This is specifically important during the winter months, when pipes are likely to burst or freeze/thaw impacts the roof. A routine inspection can identify a problem early, saving thousands of dollars of damage. We can work with you to determine the amount of property checks needed.

Utility Management

Many times when properties become vacant, it is easy for clients to let utilities go. We can help you by managing payments. Simply put the utilities in our name. We process the bills and provide accountability and reporting. . The gas is operating and the lights are always on, providing your property with security and protection from elements and other intrusions..

Around-The-Clock Customer Service

At Commercial Asset Preservation, we pride ourselves in our great customer service program. We inspect your property, provide written and visual proof of work completed and detail the problems that need to be addressed. There is someone available around the clock to answer our emergency hotline. Should you have an emergency, around a holiday or even in the middle of the  night, you can get rest assured we’re here to help.  Safety forces can reach us, and receive entry assistance before the need to force entry into your building.

For more information on vacant property maintenance, contact Nancy Carrillo at 407-883-1139 or

Tear it Down Without Ripping Your Brand Apart

deimaging photo

It is every business owner’s worst nightmare. After years of hard work and dedication, one or more of your business locations is closing.  Now you’re left with a vacant building that still has all of your company signage and branding inside and out.  If you still operate in other cities or states, having an ugly looking closed location can hurt your company image and brand. That’s where Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) comes in. We use a detailed process called De-imaging to remove your brand’s image from the building, including signage, logos, window stickers, paint color, and distinctive construction features that could represent the vacant building as once belonging to your business or franchise.

 What is De-Imaging?

De-imaging, also known as de-branding or de-identification, is the process of removing a company’s image from a building. CAP performs two types of de-imaging: soft de-identification or bagging and full de-branding or de-imaging.

Soft De-Imaging

Soft de-imaging is a smaller scale de-imaging process. Exterior pole and other street signage is covered by our team and posters are removed from all windows and either discarded or stored for future use.  Any brand identifying items, such as menu boards, are covered with tie backs.  This method allows the menu boards and other signage to be used in the future by our clients or a new operator that moves into the building.

Full De-Imaging

Full de-imaging is a much more intensive process than soft de-imaging. The building is essentially converted into a generic looking “shell” through this process. Signage is removed from the pole, menu boards are taken down, and window stickers are detached. If there are any brand-specific features about the building that makes the building identifiable as once being your brand or restaurant, we can correct that for you. For example, one of our client’s properties has a very distinctive roof above the entryway. We took down that portion of the roof and installed a new traditional style roof, so that the vacant building wouldn’t tarnish our client’s brand. We will take into account your specific needs in developing a full de-imaging plan.

Full de-imaging also helps CAP’s clients vacate a building and ensures that the property meets local safety and health requirements. Steps taken to meet these requirements include:

  • Changing locks to all entry doors
  • Installing a lock box
  • Boarding of all windows and glass doors, if required under the lease agreement and/or to prevent vandalism
  • Re-glazing broken windows if boarding is not desired or permitted
  • Repainting the exterior to remove trademarks and color schemes of the former tenant
  • Removing all point-of-purchase elements and trademarks, merchandise, any promotional decals, and other promotional material or merchandising items
  • Properly capping all exposed electrical wiring
  • Properly terminating all utilities
  • Ensuring that all of the interior and exterior (including dumpsters) is free from trash and debris
  • Removing all food, paper and other interior debris from the premises

De-Imaging is great way for you to maintain a strong brand image after a closure or multiple closures throughout your portfolio. For more information on de-imaging, please contact Nancy Carrillo, Vice President & National Sales Executive at 407-883-1139 or


Shuttered Schools Still A Part Of Kansas City’s Landscape

westport high school

Reprinted from

It was a tearful, dramatic day five years ago, when the school board of Kansas City Public Schools decided to close 21 buildings in order to adjust to a shrinking student population. That was in addition to nine previously closed schools, leaving the district with 30 surplus buildings.

Kansas City is not the only district doing this around the country … Detroit, Philadelphia and Chicago all closed large numbers of school buildings in recent years. But in the wake of the school closures, Kansas City developed what was considered a pioneering program, asking communities to be part of the process of determining what would happen to the empty buildings.

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An Audacious Plan for Baltimore’s Vacant Industrial Spaces

Reprinted from

New “makers spaces” in a struggling neighborhood could bolster the local economy with small-scale manufacturing opportunities.



It was some tough timing for urban planner Andy Cook as he lined up a tour of vacant industrial properties in Southwest Baltimore late last month, trying to drum up interest among businesses and real estate developers.

The nation had been glued to news of the riots that followed the the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody. People were beginning to understand the despair present in Baltimore neighborhoods that residents themselves declared dead.

The Southwest Baltimore Industrial Opportunity Tour wound through similar landscapes of abandonment, in Mill Hill, Shipley Hill, and as far north as Rosemont, where big companies—and the smaller businesses of butchers, bakeries, and brewers—had long since left. It was audacious to suggest that a collection of 35 dilapidated buildings could somehow begin to fix what had been broken for so long.

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Importance of a Commercial Property Inspection

Reprinted from


One of the most important things to have, when representing a buyer in the purchase of real estate, is a commercial property inspection. This should be done by a qualified property inspector. Having this type of inspection ensures that the buyer has “looked under the hood” and knows exactly what they are getting. What can appear to be a good purchase can sometimes quickly turn into a money pit with multiple unseen issues that the buyer would be inheriting.

A list of the items to be checked during a commercial property inspection:

  • Structural Issues
  • Mold (WDO Inspection)
  • HVAC
  • Roof
  • Environmental Contamination
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Hazardous Materials (lead paint, asbestos)
  • Proper Insulation
  • Fire/Life Safety Issues
  • ADA compliance issues
  • Foundation issues

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Developer J. Shorey plans to turn a vacant foundry into a fish farm, arts complex

Reprinted from


CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Central and Fairfax neighborhoods lost an estimated 100 jobs in 2012 when T&B Foundry closed a storied metal casting plant in a foreclosure process that left the eight-acre property vacant, shuttered and saddled with nearly $2 million in liens.

Now Cleveland Heights entrepreneur J. Duncan Shorey has a proposal to transform the plant at 2469 East 71st St. at Platt Avenue with an unusual mix of overlapping uses including a fish farm, an orchard, a studio center for artists, a farmers market, a cooking school and a computer server farm.

To read the entire article, click here.