Where Department Stores Go When They Die

Department stores are dying across the country, but the buildings that house them are staying alive through unique means. (iStock)

Department stores are dying in droves. The buildings that house them? Not so much.

According to Bloomberg, 40 percent of department stores in the United States have closed in the past five years. While some are ultimately razed, others are being converted into different types of spaces to reduce costs and environmental impacts, the publication reported.

Old department stores are being converted into offices, schools and even libraries. Developers are taking advantage of the generous open floor space and large windows that are hallmarks of the retail outlets.

The trend is not entirely new. After the Arnold Constable & Company department store left its Fifth Avenue location, which opened in 1914, the New York Public Library moved in, taking advantage of the space to create one of its central hubs in the city. Today it is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library.

Amazon, ironic purveyors of future department stores, is looking to pull off a similar shift at the building that housed Lord & Taylor’s flagship. The tech company is turning it into a 630,000-square-foot office for thousands of employees. The space will get two new floors and a rooftop terrace.

The conversions are taking shape on the other side of the country too. In Union Square in San Francisco, city officials approved the redevelopment of an old Macy’s into a place for retail, office and even residential space.

[Bloomberg] — Holden Walter-Warner

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