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Retail outlets in NEO are vulnerable to closure: 'There's a shopping center that might die'

Posted at 11:50 PM, Mar 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-28 07:11:33-04

According to a new study model created by the Urban Decision Group, northeast Ohio could be especially vulnerable to retail store closures over the next five years.

Rick Stein, creator of the Columbus based consulting firm, told News 5 his working model is able to predict commercial properties that are most vulnerable to being closed.

Stein believes northeast Ohio is in a position to experience an even greater rate of retail outlets being shutdown in the near future.

"Northeast Ohio is especially prone to store closures, simply because of the sheer volume of them compared to the population," said Stein.

"We believe it's important for cities to recognize that significant changes are coming, and it's coming faster than previously thought."

Stein told News 5 his team believes e-commerce could represent 20% of the entire retail market by 2023.

Stein believes it's critical northeast Ohio cities significantly change how they use available land, and find creative ways to re-purpose the growing amount of vacant retail space.

Cleveland State Levin College of Urban Affairs Professor Robert Simons agrees with the Urban Decision Group findings.

Simons told News 5 city planners can't continue to use available land to simply create even more retail space.

"You've got a community that has an empty space and wants to fill it with retail, and wants to build its tax base," said Simons.

"It doesn't care that 3 miles away, in another city, there's a shopping center that might die."

Simons said one good way to re-purpose vacant retail space is to see if it can be turned into housing.

"In terms of re-purposing, it's going to be on a case-by-case basis, residential sometimes makes sense," said Simons.

Cleveland State Levin College of Urban Affairs Professor Richard Klein said vacant retail space could also be converted in medical facilities if the market area is correct.

Klein believes northeast Ohio retail space is over-built by 40 to 50%, and that cities have to use available land and square footage in different ways, as e-commerce continues to expand.

"If they don't do that they're going to lose a tremendous space and it's going to get worse and worse," said Klein.