As auto showrooms close nationwide, schools, day care centers, stores and other activities are filling some of the void.
An art college in Columbus, Ohio. A yoga studio in Los Angeles. A food bank warehouse in Oregon. Each has taken over one of the windowed, boxy spaces that used to tease passers-by with the view of shiny cars.
Architects and historians say depressed real estate values and enthusiasm for green energy are contributing to a high level of interest in reusing showrooms. The showrooms are especially sturdy, naturally lit and often ideally located in high-traffic areas.
U.S. auto sales fell to a 26-year low in 2009, and General Motors and Chrysler shed dealerships as they struggled in the bad economy.
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