Could replacing vacant storefronts with housing help Phoenix’s severe housing shortage

By Jessica Boehm | Arizona Republic

Phoenix officials are hatching a plan to breathe new life into vacant big box stores and other empty retailers and make a dent in the city’s housing shortage.

Phoenix has a lot of retail space — an average of 40.5 square feet of retail per capita, compared to 28 square feet nationwide.

Major retailers like Sears and Toys “R” Us no longer have physical stores, leaving huge retail spaces without tenants. The shift to online shopping only grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may lead to even more physical store closures.

“What this really means is that we have too much retail,” Phoenix Planning Director Alan Stephenson said.

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