"The mall as we know it today is a mistake.
The lonely box of concrete plopped in the suburban diaspora, outdated and, in many cases, dying, isn't quite what Victor Gruen, the Austrian-born Holocaust survivor largely credited with inventing it, envisioned. Instead, the regional enclosed shopping mall was supposed to be a community center-a little bit of downtown and a car-free haven that would include day care facilities, offices, and, perhaps most importantly, residential living components a stone's throw from the building; the mall was always supposed to have housing nearby.
Perhaps today Gruen would finally be satisfied, because in its newest incarnation, the mall has finally become not just a place to shop, but to live. The mortgage meltdown, shifting demographics and a growing antipathy toward suburban sprawl have caused developers to see malls not as retail dinosaurs but as giant land banks, where going vertical can appease environmentalists, potential buyers and stockholders alike.
It's happening slowly, but it's happening all over America, and industry experts expect the trend to grow. If inner cities are starting to see condo projects go rental or remain unsold, and some new suburban subdivisions are settling into modern ghost towns as the foreclosure crisis deepens, the one bright spot in the housing market might just be here: at the mall."