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Commercial Developments: An Opportunity Awaits…Adaptive Reuse with Available Existing Inventory

Realize the Possibilities. Design Your Reality. Influence Your Life & Community.


The retail apocalypse is upon us. The articles of store closings and bankruptcies are non-stop. Headlines of "More than 6000 stores closing as the retail apocalypse drags on" are common place. AND these are only the big chains and mainstream stores. These articles don't bother to mention the restaurants and small businesses that have also been shuttered during this unprecedented time. The outlook seems pretty grim, right?


Well JP Architects, Ltd. would like to take a different approach to this situation. The changing commercial landscape provides opportunity for innovation and adaptive reuse of this existing real estate. Many of these already empty or closing businesses are in prime locations with high visibility and established traffic. So the question that must be answered is "what concept would be successful, desired by the town and community and stand the test of time?"


Recently, we participated in a webinar with BisNow Chicago. The topic was "Back to the Burbs" and one of the panelists, Ralph Zucker - President of Somerset Development, stated


"Walkability isn't the ability to walk, it's the desire to walk."

This comment resonated with us. At a deeper level, it's not really about walking, it's about developing desirable 'destinations' that provide new economic opportunity for the community.


And previously, JP Architects, Ltd. worked with developers and investors on a project that intended to do exactly that. In 2019, Target announced they were closing some locations as part of a restructuring of their company. A client enlisted the services of JP Architects, Ltd. to develop a rendering and conduct a feasibility study for reusing one of Target's closed locations. The intent was to redevelop the existing footprint into a 3000+ person theater, two banquet halls and a sports bar (pictured below). We called this concept our 'entertainment complex solution for big box vacancies.'


3D Rendering for Client Redevelopment of Big Box Store


So let's stop for a second and think about how an adaptive re-use project, like this, affects the community and economic development overall? It creates an 'anchor' that brings further redevelopment and new energy to retail plazas and the entire community. If executed properly, an adaptive reuse will encourage additional hotel, restaurant, retail and small business interest and investment into the community.


Now, we understand cities and towns have master plans and intended uses for vacant facilities; however, as an architectural firm, we recognize there is an opportunity to shape the future and establish thriving developments within these existing locations. By embracing design solutions that effectively reuse existing space and create appealing environments, we believe towns will be positioned for continued investment and economic development.


A little insight for developers, investors, commercial real estate professionals and business owners...the opportunities are endless and the inventory continues to grow. Rather than looking at the previous use of the existing space, focus on the footprint and shell. Bottom line - From the small space to the large locations, with design, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!


So to wrap this up -

While, yes, there is some doom and gloom and the retail apocalypse is definitely upon us, let's change the narrative and look at this situation as an opportunity for reinvention and redevelopment. Adaptive reuse is the path forward towards a prosperous future and JP Architects, Ltd. can guide you in the right direction.



Until next time,


Jose R. Pareja, AIA



JP Architects, Ltd. was founded in 2015 by Jose R. Pareja, AIA. We specialize in and are passionate about residential design, commercial architecture and public sector planning / capital improvement projects. Located at 7250 College Dr., Palos Heights, IL 60463, we serve North and Central Illinois. We complete hundreds of projects per year and bring sound principles of design, resourcefulness, reliability, unmatched quality and enthusiasm to each project. JP Architects, Ltd. realizes the possibilities, designs your reality and influences your life and community.