Newsweek: Is the Mall Dead?

From piece by Tony Dokoupil for Newsweek Online (link for whole story):

Who needs a charming downtown when you can have this...

Who needs a charming downtown when you can have this...


Last year was the first in half a century that a new indoor mall didn’t open somewhere in the country—a precipitous decline since the mid-1990s when they rose at a rate of 140 a year, according to Georgia Tech professor Ellen Dunham-Jones, coauthor of the forthcoming book “Retrofitting Suburbia,” which focuses on the decline of malls and other commercial strips. Today, nearly a fifth of the country’s largest 2,000 regional malls are failing, she says, and according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, and a record 150,000 retail outlets, including such mall mainstays as the Gap and Foot Locker, will close this year. Xanadu, whose officials declined NEWSWEEK’s requests for comment, has named just nine tenants for its 200 spaces.

Posted on December 10, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Have you ever been to Tyson’s Corner? Perhaps the first “ex-urb”. A huge retail and office complet all built around a highway interchange in VA just outside of DC. Well, they have realized that they cannot keep building “hyphnated sidewalks” and be only car centric.
    Check out their plans for the future:

    A sign of the times that even the mighty will fall to the whims of gas prices and the desires of people to reconnect and use their feet!

  2. I drive past here on my way to my sister’s house in Manassas. This place is now so auto-dependent that you can no longer drive to lunch from any of the office towers…auto gridlock prevents it. They are running shuttle buses instead.

    I’ve been on the ground there once about 15 yeasr ago (mall shopping – so sue me). There is no such thing as pedestrianism there. If you miss the curb-cut of your turn-off for anything in this rat’s maze you’re stuck for an hour trying to get back to it.

    I give them credit for trying to reform this mess but what are they going to do with I495/95/270 and all the 8-lane arterials running through there? I actually don’t think a lot of this stuff is salvageable. Most of it is just going to have to collapse.

    Same goes for the so-called “lifestyle centers”. The ones we have around here don’t even have the gimmick of “mixed-use” included in the retail because the suburban NIMBY’s fight any proposed housing under the mantra of “too much density”. We end up with tarted-up phoney streetscapes and one story buildings disguised as two.

    We will just have to admit that there aren’t enough assets to build anymore of this crap when hundreds of real downtowns – with all the embodied energy of the existing historic building stock – is sitting around empty all over America.


  3. The key is to link our communities together with “multi-modal” planning. Plan for pedestrians, cyclists, public transportation and auto travel.

    That would give us choice.

    As for retail in America, we are a little oversupplied at the present time. A couple of years back, there was a study that showed that we had TEN times the retail square footage as our friends in England. There is bound to be a shakedown. Malls didn’t care when they poached retailers from downtowns. Now, maybe it’s time for the reverse.

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