An old Sears reanimates as an apartment complex

Strip malls help solve the housing crisis

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The Future. A new apartment complex made out of an old Sears is part of a push to update defunct retail spaces across the country into housing to alleviate the ongoing housing crisis — one study found changing just 10% of strip malls would create 700,000 apartments. While converting strip malls alone won’t cover the US’ estimated 3.8 million housing units needed, coupling the updated strip malls with retrofitted office buildings (which have hit record-high vacancies) may make a sizable dent.

Retail rental
Soon, strip malls may sell you a place to live.

  • The Sears in a suburb of Rochester, NY, was retrofitted into an apartment complex by adding windows and courtyards.
  • The main retail building was converted into 73 units for low-income seniors. 
  • And on a nearby parking lot, another four-story apartment building was erected.

While similar projects are happening all over the country, California is especially booming for this kind of strip mall update, thanks to new state zoning laws that now make it easier to get building permits — laws that other states could copy. 

Those California projects are going down in cities like San Jose (two projects that could create north of 1,700 new apartments), Laguna Hills (1,500 new apartments), and Westminster (3,000 new apartments).

More rental units mean potentially cheaper rent across the board… something everyone here at California-based TFP would get really excited about.


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