Tuesday, February 7, 2012

failing Malls - what to do with them?

Being a fan of the genre, I immediately imagine using them as sanctuaries against the coming zombie hordes.

Via Boingboing, I found they are a real problem - malls falling into disuse, not zombie hordes.

Boingboing links to an article in the New York Times. An excerpt:

Cleveland’s Galleria at Erieview, like many malls across the country, is suffering. Closed on weekends because there are so few visitors, it is down to eight retail stores, eight food-court vendors and a couple of businesses like the local bar association.
So part of the glass-covered mall is being converted into a vegetable garden.“I look at it as space, I don’t look at it as retail,” said Vicky Poole, a Galleria executive. “You can’t anymore.”

Before looking at the rest, what uses can I come up with in three minutes: Before I start, let me get mallwalking out of the way.  It's a good idea, but it's not mine.

  1. Other athletic activities requiring space but not equipment - hula hooping, roller blading...
  2. indoor farmers market
  3. outdoor gear set up area - learn how to set up your tent
  4. learn how to fix your bike and other educational uses
  5. oops, that last one is pretty big
  6. day care
  7. PSA poster area
  8. Picnic shelter in case of rain
  9. new location for libraries - problem - conflict with local bookstore
  10. smoking area
Times up.

Huh.  I don't smoke and dislike the habit in others.  I guess desperation led to me adding it to the list.

Alright, lets see what ideas the article had in addition to the vegetable garden one above (which I really like).  This is the heart of the article so I will excerpt cautiously - please follow the link for more:
Schools, medical clinics, call centers, government offices and even churches are now standard tenants in malls. By hanging a curtain to hide the food court, the Galleria in Cleveland, which opened in 1987 with about 70 retailers and restaurants, rents space for weddings and other events. Other malls have added aquariums, casinos and car showrooms.
Even at many malls that continue to thrive, developers are redesigning them as town squares — adding elements like dog parks and putting greens, creating street grids that go through the malls, and restoring natural elements like creeks that were originally paved over.
I like the ideas in the above paragraph as they were completely absent from my list.  They are summed up as “Basically they’re building the downtowns that the suburbs never had,”  said Ellen Dunham-Jones...    I lived on the outskirts of a small town with highly spread out properties but I knew all of our neighbors and would have liked to be able to sit out on the porch and talk with passers-by.  A spacious indoor play area for kids, where parents could also feel comfortable would be welcome even though I can imagine liability insurance would be a challenge.

Oh, one other addition was a 'Wait Room', where people could have a coffee or beer and use computers while their significant other shopped.  And on page two you can read about how the indoor garden fared -good and interesting stuff.

I had been sure I could find a few blog posts on derelict shopping malls here in South Korea but after a short Google search I could find none.
Challenge for my reader(s): what else could be done with failing malls?  Quick, to the comments!

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