New Lives for Dead Malls

Suburban malls around the country are shutting down, and the huge spaces offer a variety of opportunities for creative reuse.

November 30, 2019, 11:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink


Empty Mall

Michael Steeber / Flickr

"Dozens [of malls] nationwide have shuttered in the past decade, and a quarter of the estimated 1,100 that remain are projected to follow by 2022, opening large swaths of empty space," writes Abha Bhattarai. The empty structures mean that millions of square feet of retail space and parking lots have been left behind.

But developers and municipalities are also seeing the potential to repurpose these spaces in a number of very different ways. For example, in Nashville, Vanderbilt University took over a mall property and spent $99 million to renovate the facilities for specialty clinics, says Bhattarai. "Medical clinic leases at shopping malls have grown nearly 60 percent since 2017, while leases for clothing stores have fallen about 10 percent, according to data from CoStar Group."

Bhattarai describes other examples of abandoned malls transformed for new uses: megachurches, homeless shelters, fitness centers, and video gaming hubs. Some tenants are using spaces temporarily, while others are making large-scale renovation investments. In addition, some of these former malls still house retail establishments, an arrangement that developers see as a win-win since visitors to a gym, for example, are also potential shoppers at stores at the same location.

Friday, November 22, 2019 in The Washington Post

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

LAX Cars

Car Noise Is Killing Us

It’s not just traffic collisions that kill—a new study from researcher at Rutgers finds that the loud noises emanating from cars has direct impact on heart health in Americans.

May 6, 2022 - Streetsblog USA

Rittenhouse Square, a park in Philadelphia, framed by large buildings.

Parks as a Weapon Against Climate Change

The 2022 ParkScore finds that cities are increasingly employing green space as a tool for mitigating heat and extreme weather effects, but the distribution of parks remains inequitable.

May 16 - Trust for Public Land

View of Louisiana state capitol building and downton Baton Rouge, LA

Louisiana Capital Shifting to Electric Transit

The Baton Rouge area is now served by a fleet of nine all-electric buses.

May 16 - American Journal of Transportation

Mount Rainier

New Community Engagement Practices for Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan Update

A major update of Seattle’s comprehensive plan is just getting under way, with new opportunities for local groups to get involved with outreach and engagement.

May 16 - Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.