Churches. Salvation for malls?
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.