For all the talk about how people canít sell their homes, there just
isnít enough pity for all the poor developers who built speculative
strip malls over the past several years.
Now, I know what youíre thinking. You hate strip malls. Theyíre ugly,
lacking in character and have a tendency to add to snarled suburban
traffic. Some guy built a strip mall on spec and now itís sitting empty?
Good, you say! Screw him! Heís evil anyway.
You are so harsh. Iím glad I donít do business with you. Mr. Poor
Speculative Strip Mall Developer had some tough breaks come his way.
First of all, three years ago when he built the strip mall, the economy
was booming (the real one, not the one you read about in the Associated
Press) and there was plenty of capital available for people to use to
start businesses. And people who start businesses need places to work!
Then a couple of things happened. The first was that there was suddenly
no longer any capital available. The second was that people no longer
needed a place to work. Granted, you have to work somewhere, but
you donít need your own office. Iím sitting in a coffee shop writing
this. (In fairness, the coffee shop is in a strip mall, but Iím not sure
how the coffee shop makes money when people like me buy a $2 cup of
coffee and sit here all day.)
just secured a project from a client in Syracuse. An hour earlier, I
worked out the details on a project with a partner in Los Angeles.
Why would I lease space in a strip mall when I can sit here and do all
that? That would be insane, and I am not insane, in spite of what you
what are we going to do with all this vacant commercial property? Well,
since weíre in the age of economic stimulus and the like, we need to
think creatively. We need to think of things to do with those properties
that create an economic multiplier, or whatever they call it. I think it
means that when youíre trashing the investment on which youíve already
lost your shirt, you create paying make-work for someone else.
here are a few ideas:
Use them as new
homes for NFL teams. Granted, they are not very big, you canít fit
that many people inside and itís kind of hard to throw a bomb when
you have a 15-foot-high roof (let alone punt or kick a field goal).
But you know those $10 million contracts they give quarterbacks in
the NFL? And you know how they need 80,000-seat stadiums, paid for
by taxpayers, to generate the revenue to pay those salaries? Yeah,
well those days are over. So downsize the whole economic structure
of the NFL, move the games into strip malls and save a fortune.
headquarters for General Motors. I donít really think I need to
elaborate on this, except to say that you might be able to stick all
the dealers in there as well.
I hear that things
are so bad now that even some casinos are going bankrupt! Thatís a
neat trick. Move the casino to a strip mall, replace the ice
sculptures with cubicle panels and stick your slot machine along the
wall opposite Papa Murphyís Pizza Ė you might have a fighting
downsized operations that might need a new home, if the Obama
defense budget comes out like some people think it will, what will
we need with that gigantic Pentagon?
You may have your own ideas. Mine are surely better, though. After all,
whatever other stupid decisions Iíve made, I was smart enough not to
build a strip mall on spec.