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Death of the Shopping Mall May Be Exaggerated

Despite threats like online retail, upscale sectors of the mall market are prospering. This is good news for what are, perhaps, the only walkable 'streets' in some parts of the country.
March 31, 2015, 8am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Christopher Woo

Some shopping malls are closing, but many more remain entirely viable. Amanda Kolson Hurley reports on the specifics. "Most malls are owned by a handful of publicly traded real-estate investment trusts (REITs), and the big players who specialize in higher-end malls are doing well. The top three—Simon Property Group, General Growth Properties, and Macerich—have seen their stock prices rise since 2012."

To succeed today, malls need to be interesting. And they do that by projecting affluence and "lifestyle" options. From the article: "Meanwhile, malls are working hard to drum up more foot traffic. Increasingly, higher-end shopping malls peddle an experience, not just goods. They have real restaurants and cafes instead of wan food-court fare, ritzy salons, and maybe a Whole Foods where a department store used to be."

Counter-intuitively, any real loss of public interest in mall spaces may not be a good thing: "Urbanists like to think that the American mall is a relic. But the truth is that until more suburbs redevelop to become denser and walkable, the mall is the best communal—though not really public, alas—space that we've got."

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Published on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 in CityLab
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