As America’s Malls Wither, Medical Facilities Move In

Image courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart

If you’re looking to open a new medical facility — not just a couple of exam rooms and a reception area, but a proper clinic — you want something affordable, spacious, brightly lit, with good parking, and a central, convenient location. Thanks to the ongoing retail apocalypse, there are dead or dying malls around the country that fit this bill.

While eye doctors, dentists, and other specialized doctors have leased store fronts in malls for years, the departures of large tenants are paving the way for a new relationship between empty malls and medical professionals.

The Wall Street Journal reports that large medical providers are moving into empty malls, giving a new purpose to the once bustling shopping centers.

And these doctors aren’t just renting the former home of Macy’s or Sears, they’re taking over the entire building, or most of it.

In one example, the former Atrium Mall in Massachusetts will become home to the 140,000-square-foot Dana-Farber Cancer Center in 2019.

The building, which is now called Life Time Center, has been repurposed as a health and wellness facility, operating a gym and reproductive medical clinic, the WSJ reports.

For Dana-Farber Clinic the mall provided the perfect combination of size, stability, and location. A rep for Dana-Farber tells the WSJ that the location is convenient for patients and employees, while providing a growth opportunity for the company.

In Mississippi, the Jackson Medical Mall began brining in tenants in the ’90s. Now, it houses the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute.

Likewise, in Tennessee, Vanderbilt University Medical Center moved into the One Hundred Oaks mall as an anchor tenant in 2009. The mall that once sat relatively empty is now 98% occupied by the school’s 450,000-square-foot facility.

These medical facilities aren’t just helping to prop up struggling malls, they’re also contributing to other tenants’ success.

A manager for LaSalle Property Fund, which owns One Hundred Oaks mall, tells the WSJ that other tenants at the mall have benefited from consistent traffic generated by patients, employees, and others visiting Vanderbilt University Medical Center.