Parking Lot Jungle

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Parking Lot Jungle

The pandemic’s ripples have reached far and wide. As we wait for the vaccine to set us free, changes in our culture and economy are further solidified. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I know there will be many repairs to make when the tunnel opens up. 

One question a lot of us have been asking is what will happen to all the commercial space that might not be put back in use after the pandemic has abated. Some office buildings will not be occupied again for a while. Strip malls, restaurants and retail buildings that have been emptied by lockdowns and shifts in spending might be in limbo for the foreseeable future.

I feel worried if I think about it too hard. And then I remember the resilience of our country and its people. Those spaces will be put to use and become profitable again. I have no doubt.

In the meantime, somebody needs to maintain the parking lots attached to those buildings.

Our local Sears has closed. Lots of Sears stores have closed over the last five years. Whatever injuries the company sustained by competitors like Walmart had already weakened it significantly and the pandemic dealt the final blow. 

Lately, when I drive by the old Sears building, I notice the parking lot looking worse and worse for wear.

The asphalt is developing cracks. The painted lines are fading. The speed bumps are popping out of place. The planters look like jungles – dying jungles in some spots. The plants are not trimmed or watered, and the weeds are doing their thing. One section of the lot has become the semi-permanent home of a flock of seagulls and all their requisite waste.

It’s not pretty.

I wonder who’s responsible for that parking lot right now? Is
it the mall adjacent? Is it Sears?
Is it a private company that
stopped working because no one’s paying them?

It seems like the mall has a good reason to keep up the parking lot. If they plan to lease the space to another retailer, it would be better if the lot were in good condition. The city also has an interest in the appearance of this parking lot. The surrounding businesses must care, too.

What I’m thinking about now is a parking lot maintenance company that specializes in these transitory spaces. When a parking lot is not fully claimed by the owner or lessee, an ingenious person, or the current contractor, could step in and offer a temporary contract to keep up the lot until the commercial real estate is filled again.

I’m sure it’s more complicated than that and there are legalities I don’t comprehend. But a parking lot falling into serious disrepair can’t be good for anyone involved on a financial level.

I know the losses have been great. Things have changed – some forever. Regardless, I look forward to the progress I know will occur in the months ahead. Empty buildings and empty parking lots might be a loss we face for some time, but they will, inevitably, and triumphantly, become opportunities.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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