Nampa's Karcher Mall Struggles to Stay Relevant

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Back in the fall, National Public Radio reported a series of stories on American's changing mall culture, where it reported that of the 1,200 enclosed malls in the country, only about a third of them are doing well. Factors like online shopping, the recession, a surge in shopping local and shifts toward lifestyle centers such as the Village at Meridian have pulled shoppers away from conventional indoor malls.

The Karcher Mall, in Nampa, has struggled since Macy's left in 2009, leaving a 70,000-square-foot empty space. 

According to the Idaho Press-Tribune, rental rates dropped in the wake of the department store's departure. In 2008, the mall underwent a $14-million facelift, but in 2010, it faced foreclosure. 

LeAnne Hume, the branch manager for the mall's broker, went before the Nampa Development Corporation's board in December to fill them in on some possible options that would help keep the mall afloat. She said there are retailers interested in the former Macy's space, but significant renovations would need to be done first.

"We are at a critical juncture right now with that project," she told the board. "We have interest from great tenants, but ... next year will be the 50th anniversary since that mall was built and it's facing some challenges."

Another option is to "de-mall" part of the building. That would mean turning storefronts to the outside and getting rid of the enclosed common areas where shoppers traditionally walk. It's been successful in struggling malls around the country.

NPR's coverage found empty shopping malls have been turned into everything from office space—including Google Glass—to medical centers, churches, universities, even hockey rinks. Some stay concrete carcasses, as seen in this Huffington Post story, which depicts abandoned malls in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.