It’s not a problem we really have in Britain, but the abandoned supermarket will be familiar to residents of some of America’s urban areas. Walmart in particular has been closing smaller stores in order to consolidate around larger ‘supercentres’. The shells that are left behind are something of a problem. The small local shops that went out of business when the supermarket arrived aren’t going to come back, and it’s hard to fill a retail space of that size. They usually end up sitting empty and decaying.
Not in McAllen, Texas. When Walmart pulled out, they left this vast grey space the size of two and a half football fields. What to do with it?
If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’re imagining it full of books.
Neatly divided into sections to make it easier to navigate, the building now houses the McAllen Main Library, a computer suite, conference facilities, a gallery and a cafe. It’s the biggest single-storey library in the US. Library staff report that new registrations are up by almost a quarter since the new library opened.