7.15.2012

best recycling ever: abandoned walmart converted to public library



From Beth Buczynski at Shareable.net:
In recent years, there's been something of a grassroots backlash against Wal-Mart Inc., as people have started to realize the damage a single Walmart can do to the small businesses that make up a local economy. In a few cases, there's even been news of Walmart stores closing, effectively run out of town by citizens strongly opposed to its economic, environmental, and social practices.

While this represents a win for the citizens who organized the ouster, it creates an equally big challenge. Namely, what does one do with the cavernous commercial space left behind by an abandoned Walmart?

The citizens of McAllen, Texas, a city of about 130,000 located in the southernmost tip of the state, experienced just such a vaccum after Walmart closed and then abandoned a 124,500 sq. foot space. Instead of searching for another big box retailer to take it's [sic!] place, the City decided to reclaim the space as a public library. . . .

The cavernous space now houses an auditorium, computers lab, classrooms and meeting rooms, and adult and teen reading lounges — not to mention hundreds of thousands of books -- earning it the title of the largest single-story library location in the U.S.
More story and pics here.

Thanks to James for the BoingBoing link and to Allan for the Common Dreams story.

6 comments:

Stephanie said...

Such a beautiful story!!

We have had a similar success story in London, ON. We had 3 HBC stores, one in the heart of downtown. With a number of compagnies leaving London (in the white collar recession of the 90's and) the Hudson's Bay Company decided to reduce 3 stores to 2 and opted to close the downtown location. The city decided to move the main branch of the public library into this former HBC store. Brilliant and it has been a huge success as a library, a centeral meeting place and community centre for public talks and performances except that the former library (a beautiful building in the core) sits empty but for the obnoxious advertising of the holding company that now owns the space (as well as the majority of spaces in the core.

'grey space' is such a blight in cities and has been an irritant for a long long time. Here is a brilliant adaptation that took the vision of community building, we must learn from it.

The Big-Box formula motivates compagnies like Canadian Tire (even Loblaws and the Bay) to keep building bigger while abandoning their former space. The phenomena is not new and these abandoned spaces often sit empty for years after.Gah!

BUT wow!! Recently, I notice that these spaces are being bought up by storage companies. Since when do so many of us need so much additional storage space that we are prepared to rent it??

I'm ranting, sorry. Many of us might even live in bigger and bigger homes. Presumably, so that we will have more space for all of our new stuff. So what's the deal??? As good citizen consumers, we(they) buy buy buy and then need to rent a storage locker to fill it ith our excess stuff? I stop myself there with face firmly planted in palm.

laura k said...

Steph, feel free to rant here any time!

Since when do so many of us need so much additional storage space that we are prepared to rent it??

This is also not a new trend, although perhaps new in your area (?). In NYC, this has long been marketed as a solution to tiny apartments and no closet or storage space.

Stephanie said...

I almost mentioned that about NYC but this is NOT NYC. Nobody with access to the income or these storage spaces (cars required) lives in that tiny of a space.

laura k said...

Nobody with access to the income or these storage spaces (cars required) lives in that tiny of a space.

Right. And these storage places are found outside in and around all metro areas, including within sprawl, so space is not really the issue.

Every once in a while I'll see a story about someone in the US trying to live in their storage locker. More hidden homelessness.

Stephanie said...

Hidden just the way the nimby's want it! :(

Stephanie said...

Right. And these storage places are found outside in and around all metro areas, including within sprawl, so space is not really the issue.

Zakly!!