When Borders Bookstores close their doors, they will increase available US retail space by about 6.3 million square feet, something not likely to help with record vacancies and sluggish rents in the sector. In February, the store declared bankruptcy and closed 225 stores. In August and September 259 stores’ leases will be auctioned off and the remaining smaller outlets are also scheduled to be liquidated.
John Bernis, director of leasing at Jones Lang LaSalle, is optimistic about the glut of empty spaces about to descend on the market. “I think they’ll lease quite well,” he said, adding that Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy and Books-a-Million all may be interested in the former Borders sites. However, shopping centers with the now-empty Borders sites may experience 18.8 percent vacancies, whereas previously Borders shopping centers had an average of 4.2 percent vacancies. Also, since Borders shoppers tend to be affluent, other vendors may leave as well, and subdividing the stores is likely to be difficult because Borders spaces tend to be narrow and deep.
Some community experts are hoping the prevent the commercial property blight that the empty box stores threaten to create by getting building permits now in order tear down the buildings if they are not quickly repurposed.
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