mall interior

Many parking garages, shopping malls and other commercial real estate structures were struggling before COVID-19. The pandemic’s spread has made things that much worse.

Increasingly, these enterprises are eying senior living as a way to remain viable. The most recent entry is EPC Real Estate Group, which recently announced plans to convert a multitier parking structure into senior-living apartments near Kansas City.

Changing demographics and in many cases buying habits help explain why senior living has become so embraceable. In a nation where 10,000 people turn 65 each day, the need for senior living options is growing as never before. Moreover, the advent of online shopping has made things like trips to the mall and finding parking less common.

A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors found that while the most common redevelopment use for a shuttered mall is some other kind of retail (31%), mixed-use — including the addition of senior living — came in second (16%).

By all indications, the shift is just getting started. By some estimates more than 300 enclosed malls are likely to go out of business in the next decade. That is likely to create new opportunities for redevelopment or re-use.