After Walmart closed up shop in McAllen, they left 124,500 square feet of retail space behind for use by the city.
Rather than bring in another big box corporation to pick up where Walmart left off, the southern Texas city decided to turn the building into its new public library. And not just any public library neither: Upon its completion, the McAllen Public Library became the largest single-story library in the United States.
The project was massively successful: Registration by first-time patrons went up by 23% in the library's first month of operation, and its "functional, flexible and affordable" interior — constructed by Minneapolis-based Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. — was recently named winner of the International Interior Design Association's 2012 Library Interior Design Competition.
"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," McAllen native Adriana Ramirez told the LA Times.