Despite many claiming that brick-and-mortar retail is dead, modern workspaces may be the key to revitalizing abandoned storefronts.
This trend has gained traction over the past few years, with JLL estimating that urban workspaces within US retailers will grow 25% annually through 2023.
For instance, San Francisco-based Westfield is a shopping center that has repurposed retail spaces with companies like workspace provider Bespoke, which caters to freelancers, startups and entrepreneurs. Even more, the company offers discounts on rent to entrepreneurs working on projects that are related to improving the retail sector.
“We’re really a retail technology ecosystem,” said Judith Shahvar, Bespoke director. “We can connect C-level executive with Silicon Valley startups to help them gain new insights. It encourages a sense of community; it’s a feel-good space.”
Although traction for these workspaces within retail centers has grown in the US, it has yet to find its footing in the UK. Tim Vallance, head of investor services and retail chairman at JLL, said that this model would work particularly well in London and university towns such as Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester.
“There are going to be a lot of empty shops. But this really isn’t a disaster. It’s about accepting that to an extent; we need to let evolution do its work,” said Vallance. “We just need some clever people to think about how to use those spaces.”