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THE RUNDOWN

Churches. Salvation for malls?

October 22, 2019

 

Many malls are facing closures from anchor tenants, and this open square footage has driven mall owners to think creatively. Some locations are turning to co-working, gyms, and medical centers.

Some are also thinking about leasing to churches. Indeed, some churches have bought an entire mall.

What made shopping malls appealing to the public— recreating a downtown experience that connects a community — fits with the mission of many churches. They also gain efficiencies of costs relative to square footage, and plentiful parking. 

On the other hand, upkeep of a former retail space can be costly for a religious organization due to the sheer size of the space.

For mall owners attracted by immediate income, leasing to a church may also damage the long-term viability of the mall. Churches typically hold a main activity when the rest of the spaces are closed on Sunday mornings. The activities may keep people within the former-anchor space rather than pushing people to other areas of the mall.

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