The 21st Show

The Widespread Issue Of Empty Storefronts And What Decatur Is Doing About It


Back in the '90s, we saw a proliferation of strip malls and commercial storefronts across the U.S. But today, as thousands of retailers have closed their doors, cities and towns are grappling with what to do with all the empty buildings. We look at how Decatur is handling this, and hear about how other states have tackled the problem.

No matter where you live in the state, you’ve likely seen these in your community: empty structures that once housed chain restaurants, grocery stores or Walmarts. 

But now they sit boarded up — vacant; shells of buildings in formerly bustling strip malls or along highways.

So far in 2019, retailers have announced more than 9,000 store closures nationwide. The city of Decatur is making an effort to fill some of these empty commercial spaces. 

We spoke with Analisa Trofimuk and Kennedy Nolen, reporters with the Decatur Herald & Review, who have been reporting on this

We were also joined by Tim Viewig, a lifelong Decatur resident and managing broker of a commercial real estate company, and Susan Mitchell, co-director of the national nonprofit organization Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Mitchell directs the Institute's Independent Business Initiative and is author of “Big Box-Swindle,” a book about large retail chains. 

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