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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Full of Empty Buildings

Winter #3 has arrived on Planet Georgia. I bundled up and took a little walk around the block at lunch yesterday.

Empty parking lots, quiet shop floors… It could be a Saturday. But it was Wednesday at lunch, and this is one of several buildings, within a short walk of the office, that stand empty. Of the businesses within sight of the office, three of them went away in 2008. Sure, they might have found bigger or cheaper digs, but it’s more likely — since the buidings remain empty months later — that they simply faded away.

So what do developers think of this? Why, put up more office space, of course! This went up in the last year, down a cul-de-sac across from the office. The awnings and faux towers at the corners, in my mind, give it a sort of retail-ish look. It’s huge, it’s pretty… and empty as a politician’s promise.

Traffic during rush hour gets pretty horrendous along this stretch of road, that connects two major thoroughfares, so they’re working on four-laning it. Of course, that’s not stopping “them” from putting up more construction alongside. That’s a retail development on the left, so far with only one State Farm office and a restaurant “coming soon.” Just about all the buildings on the right are “medical office” space, with the last two buildings empty and the closer ones maybe half-occupied.

So this is what the beginning of a recession looks like… new buildings going up while the old ones are emptying out.


  1. FAR,
    This isn't unique to Planet Georgia ... there's a huge glut of office/retail space either under or unoccupied in the western nether regions of the metro here. Ironically, in the more urban area of the city where we live, there's a lot more going on. Personally, if all of WDM blew away, I wouldn't miss it much, since it has been way overdeveloped. I see no fathomable reason whey there are two Lowe's within 1-2 miles of each other out that way and they're not alone.

    Some businesses are going to cannibalize each other, and frankly, they probably deserve it!


  2. FAR, we have the same problem here. Perhaps the builders are rather stupidly covering the land in empty buildings in the same way that New England's inbred commercial fishermen trawl the continental shelf down to the bedrock, one catch at a time, because they cannot stomach the alternative?

    There are certain types out there that apparently cannot resist strangling their own golden geese for the sake of a convenient warm meal. As they say on the HBB, it's like burning your furniture to stay warm .. and after it's gone, you get cold again plus you've got nowhere comfy to sit.

    Soooooooooo blitheringly stupid :(

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  4. I shake my head every time I see new buildings going up, knowing they won't be used. I find it so monstrously stupid to tear up perfectly good land just to put in ugly buildings. Maybe those buildings can be used for boxed community living as you wrote in your FARfetched Future.

    I do agree with your statement, Nudge, about people strangling their own golden geese for the sake of a warm meal. The "intelligence" (HAHAHAHA) behind so much of what has happened just boggles the mind.

  5. I see that all over the place here. In fact, our new office space deal just went south b/c of wickedly greedy lawyers. (disclaimer, one of my very best friends was a commercial real estate atty, so this *not* a comment on all lawyers, just these jerks). The space we were to occupy - most of 2 floors - has been EMPTY for 2+ years. Eedjits. We walked b/c they kept changing the terms.

    Plus, like Planet GA, we have new office buildings all over the place being built, along with new condo/retail buildings. I truly do not get it.

    Reminds me so much of the early 80s not!recession.

  6. Gee Far, it's hard for me to believe...

  7. Hey all! Sorry about the late response, it's been a long day.

    I'm not surprised that the same thing is happening all over the place… it's a manifestation of overshoot. The momentum, just like overshoot in a more natural setting, keeps the construction going for a while after exceeding the supply of food (leases).

    I'm sure those buildings will be used for something… whether for raw materials or creative housing, or something else entirely. All this road construction going on that's been needed for years; now it's started & it won't be needed anymore. :-P

  8. FAR, I like the theme you explore (through fiction) of all those buildings being re-used for something. There is enormous embedded energy in even a plain stick-built house. If nothing else, it can be disassembled for materials or fuel. Properly taking down a flat-roofed Prole*Mart superstore (for materials) might in itself require a fair amount of energy .. but when you have no means of getting I-beams otherwise, it might be an attractive alternative. Don't know what good all that roof tar would be, or even if it can be recovered.

    Without maintenance, the roof drains get clogged soon enough, and when that happens, water and then plants get into the structure, and before long it's game-over.

    Those of us who like that haunting look of industrial archaeology will no doubt find lots of pretty material further down the road, should we live so long.


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