Mall Hybrids Expand Downtown Character

Enclosed malls are out of vogue, but new mall-condo hybrids are gaining popularity, and bringing what was once an exclusively "downtown" character out to the 'burbs.

"When the bread factory in Natick, Massachusetts, was razed in 2004, the dusty smell of construction rose instead. On the site of the factory and a former Filene's department store, once part of Natick Mall, 215 condominiums are under construction and set to be completed next year. Known as Nouvelle at Natick, they are believed to be the first built within an older enclosed shopping mall, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers; the original Natick Mall was built in 1965, then razed and rebuilt in 1994."

"The transformation of the mall is less revolutionary than evolutionary. Almost no one builds malls anymore, or even calls them that. Only one enclosed shopping mall was built in 2006, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, and none are planned for this year. Many old malls, meanwhile, have added hotels, or residential developments have sprung up around them."

"But General Growth Properties, a mall developer based in Chicago, believes the old paradigm for a mall can be transformed further. Applying the lifestyle-center model, where upscale retailers, sit-down restaurants and condos are built around what looks like a city street, General Growth Properties has embarked on a $370 million Natick Mall expansion and makeover."

Full Story: When Downtown Is in the Suburbs

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