For over a 100 years the V&D was a big brand in the Dutch store landscape. But last week it was officially euthanized after not making a profit for over 20 years and so the Dutch inner cities have a lot of extra empty space.

In total about 360.000 m2 of space was occupied by in total 62 different stores for which now a new use has to be found.

One of the options is that a new company starts its own department store. This was tried by Cool Investments, but they didn’t get the business case complete so this didn’t work out. Rumors are that Hudson’s Bay is trying to take over part of the stores to start some of their own formulas, but they will also only fill part of the stores and I think it is clear that a lot needs to be changed in order for a department store to be viable.

Luckily there are also some more creative people in this world. They see an empty building, and lots of options. A few of these:

  • In Deventer a group of people want the building to be remodeled into a large discotheque. Currently 1152 people like this idea on Facebook,┬ábut the potential is higher for Den Haag, were 3764 people like this same idea for the building in the Hague.
  • In the east of the country the people are hoping for a food market. Where Rotterdam has the Markthal, people in Zwolle, Hengelo and Enschede have some feelings for their own food market in the empty buildings.
  • Or restructure the entire building. Convert the top floor(s) to apartments and put a large series of small shops in the rest of the building. Not chosen as a option yet, but potentially attractive to counter the rise in empty shops in the smaller cities.
  • Some cities are even considering putting the public library in the empty building, such as the city of Oss.
  • There are even people suggesting to turn it into entertainment halls including casinos, cinema’s and even go-kart places, or to use it for temporary housing for refugees.

Creative ideas, but the most creative I’ve found must come out of my birth place.

Already at the beginning of the year the website iDordt presented the idea of taxi driver Herman. For this you have to know that the Dutch marihuana system is a bit weird, where you aren’t allow to grow more than 5 plants, but as a coffeeshop you may have 500g in store. But how they get is a very dark area, so this taxi driver had a plan to change it all.

The entire store in Dordrecht should be converted into a giant coffeeshop, where weed is grown on the top floor. For this, youngsters which have trouble finding a job could do some on-job training, and the problem of knowing where to get the stuff is also solved.

The rest of the building (the other 2 floors) should then be converted to large relax areas, and maybe so room to sell home grow kits.

You can think of it whatever you want, but the award for the most creative solution definitely goes to this idea.