It appears where retail giants fail, public libraries succeed. McAllen, Texas converted a 124,500 sqft "big box" into the largest single floor library in the US.
The LA Times reports:
McAllen is near the southernmost tip of Texas, on the Mexico border. "In a city like McAllen, with cartel violence across the river (less than 10 miles away from the library), I think it's amazing that the city is devoting resources to a) not only saving a large and conspicuous piece of property from decline and vandalism, but b) diverting those resources into youth and the public trust," Ramirez writes. "It's easy to fall into drugs, drinking, and violence when you live on the border. It's not really easy to find a place to hang out when you're 14 that's not the mall, the movies, or Mexico. And a giant library -- a cool-looking open space devoted to entertaining the imagination? Well, I think that's the best counter-move against violence imaginable. And you don't even have to wait for a computer now."
**The Los Angeles Times has updated their story. Walmart, as was reported in the comments, grew into a larger location and did not fail at the location-now-library.
[For the Record, 9:45 a.m. July 5: A previous version of this post said Wal-Mart had failed in the McAllen, Texas, location. The discount store remains in the community in a larger location.]
Los Angeles Times: Where Wal-Mart failed, a library succeeds
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