North America Rethinks Its Strip Malls

As the strip malls ubiquitous across the suburbs of the United States and Canada lose favor and become increasingly derelict, planners and developers debate whether there is anything about the 'retail relics' worth salvaging.

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February 1, 2012, 12:00 PM PST

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


As developers seek to profit from their redevelopment, and planners seek to densify and improve walkability in their communities, it would appear that the end is nigh for strip malls across North America. However, "at least one Canadian academic sees value in maintaining the ubiquitous local retailing plazas, and has amassed proposals such as adding community gardens or toboggan slides, or morphing them into giant bee hives or parking lots for food caravans."

"There's still a demand for local retail services and these facilities are standing there and so the question is, how can they be reused to make suburbs more vibrant and more sustainable?" says Rob Shields, a sociology professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

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