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Old 21 July 2013, 06:54 PM
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Default No new enclosed malls have been built in the US since 2006?

Apparently several sources claim that no new fully enclosed malls (although a few sources state "only one") have been built in the United States in well over half a decade. This seems odds to me given the ubiqitiousness of malls in the US, but it seems to pan out.

http://www.columbusunderground.com/f...-us-since-2006

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/art...s-retire/2568/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124294047987244803.html
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Old 21 July 2013, 07:09 PM
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With the economy the way it is, Michigan isn't building many new malls these days. The last one that I am familiar with was built in 2003. It was not enclosed which I thought and still thing was foolish. The last enclosed mall I am aware of was built in 1999.

What I later found out is that the current trend is malls is to create something that emulates a town center. These are always open mall. I would guess they are also cheaper to build and update.
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Old 21 July 2013, 07:24 PM
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I would say that it is possible - for one, enclosed malls could be a pretty expensive venture that costs a lot of money for a developer. Not to mention that they tend to last a long time as they are and the nature of enclosed malls means that the only reason for a new one would be the demand for more retail space and many businesses aren't expanding like they used to and are probably taking up space in existing malls that are more popular.

The last couple of malls that I have been too have several vacant spots in them. Why bother with building a new one when Malls could be struggling to lease out existing locations due to a recession? Shopping centers are probably more efficient since they are smaller in size and the scope of operations means that they they require smaller investment and they are easier to expand for new shopping outlets instead of doing it all at once and wait for people to commit to a large space. Not to mention that with a smaller shopping center, you can build off from one big retailer who is more willing to expand (such as a Wall Mart).

I think the biggest obstacle is that there aren't as many new businesses expanding to malls and slowing expansion and the many existing malls that are perfectly suitable for use.

ETA: Partially spanked by Beachlife!
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Old 21 July 2013, 07:27 PM
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In my time travelling around Canada and the US, I will admit that I have not seen any new enclosed malls. But, I've seen acreages full of new box stores, some with 25+ stores, all around both countries.

Perhaps that is the new trend.
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Old 21 July 2013, 07:46 PM
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Big box stores are taking over, and nearly all new shopping malls consist of big chains with parking outside the door. Easier and cheaper to build and customers can park right outside. All the space can be rented and you don't have to heat and cool the mall proper.
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Old 21 July 2013, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by UEL View Post
Perhaps that is the new trend.
I very much think that it is the trend. Enclosed malls were really popular over the last 20 or so plus years ago, but nowadays it seems to be smaller is more efficient and therefore better operations. Open models seems to be easier to scale and the big enclosed models are only really viable in larger cities and are built to last a long time and be more monolithic structures. The enclosed malls I have been to lately tend to be large muti-level operations like the Mall of America (the newer malls at least - older ones tend to be 2 level ones) and those ones are about almost an hour away from each other.
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Old 21 July 2013, 07:59 PM
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This just opened up outside of Calgary's city limits a few years ago. It and a similar mall in Ontario are the only new Canadian malls to open since 1992, and even then the style is considerably different than traditional malls (one or two anchors, food courts, lots of smaller shops). It's like a big box complex and a traditional mall got together and had a big, sprawling baby. There aren't any of the usual department stores, but there are several anchors of what would normally be a big box store or outlet versions of a mall store, along with more traditional storefronts.

I was surprised that so few had been built since the 80's, since the 90's still seemed to be mall era, but it makes sense - you had a lot of fairly new buildings due to the huge 80's boom, but every major city also seemed to have that one dead mall (I worked in one in Edmonton, as one of six stores left open in the entire place. It was creepy). They just didn't need to build any more.

When I moved here in the late 90's, the two trends were big box developments, and the existing enclosed malls undergoing huge, upscale renovations. Even now, our major malls are still constantly updating - one has nearly doubled in size, and has attracted a lot of US retailers that are rare in Canada (Nordstrom is moving in soon, for example) and the downtown one has essentially gutted the first four levels of three different office towers to join three small malls into one very high end one. Both aim to attract high end retailers and customers.

Now the trend in the city is shifting away from suburban sprawl, so the big box complexes are turning into what the malls were in the late 90's and early 2000's - run down, undesirable places to be. The city is pushing tight regulations on the big boxes to make them a lot more pedestrian friendly and less aesthetically offensive (things like meters and meters of blank walk encouraging crime and decay, and pushing people into cars rather than out exploring their own communities). We're starting to see more urbanism and less reliance on cars, so that's leading to things like traditional big boxes showing up as storefronts built into downtown (we just got a Best Buy a few block away from us. At the time, it seemed insane than they'd look at building one in the location they did, but it's a little smaller than a suburban best buy and it works well). The traditional malls still do well here, because it does get cold and crappy in the winter, but new communities are moving toward the neighbourhood model built around a mini town square with shops and parks in walking distance, rather than the residential-only sprawl of the previous two decades. I'm very curious to see a presentation that's going to be made tomorrow for the development of an old strip mall. There's been some buzz around it, and I won't be surprised if it ends up being a full shopping plaza development.

Last edited by quink; 21 July 2013 at 08:07 PM.
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  #8  
Old 21 July 2013, 08:11 PM
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So I guess the question is how long is the traditional enclosed mall going to last if no (or very, very few) new ones are being built.

Because the mall doesn't seem to be dying the way other once widespread retailers that are being ran out by the internet and big box stores seem to be. There's 6 big traditional enclosed malls within a half hour drive of my house and they range from thriving to holding on. One is in the middle of a pretty major renovation (ironically enough with an attached Target as an anchor store) and enough mall centric retailers still exist so that it seems like business isn't done with the concept.
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Old 21 July 2013, 08:24 PM
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One thing I've noticed with malls is that they seem to have shifted their demographic a bit: back in the 90s malls tended to have stores for everything, but these days basically all the malls I know have shifted over to becoming dominated by trendy, overpriced clothing stores that target teens. Certainly, those have always been a major part of malls as long as I can remember, but now they're about all you can find in malls: other longtime fixtures like music stores, toy stores, book stores, video arcades, and electronics stores have all gone into serious decline to the point where they have basically no presence anymore.
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Old 21 July 2013, 08:40 PM
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The trend I've noticed around here is that instead of enclosed malls developers are now building outdoor shopping centers that almost try to imitate the main street of a small village. There will be maybe a couple of big box stores with typical big parking lots out along the edges, and a running through the middle lined with restaurants and smaller shops with some parking along the street. Often there will be a big movie theater as well.

ETA: I see I've been spanked by Beachlife on that point.
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Old 21 July 2013, 08:50 PM
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I think the good ones will continue to renovate, update, and tweak their designs to work with current trends and what customers want, especially in colder climates. There are 100 year old department stores still hanging around in major cities long after that model died out, even though they might not exist as department stores anymore. The bad malls will die and be redeveloped.

I'd honestly expect big box complexes to have a shorter lifespan than enclosed malls. I know they're already falling out of fashion here and people find them unpleasant places to go. They seem the most likely to lose out to the convenience of online shopping. The newer popular shopping forms like outdoor plazas and urban storefront shopping (and even some updated malls) offer something other than shopping alone - they've tried to make an effort to create social environments and follow design philosophies that make shopping a more pleasant experience. You get a mix of restaurants and cafes, entertainment, galleries, etc. The focus of it has changed a bit from the teenage hangout to almost more of a community meeting place for people with enough disposable income to afford to live in a walkable community and shop at the more expensive shops there.

I've noticed that a lot with house hunting. I'm not a big shopper myself, but walkability is #1 on our must-have list for other reasons, so these types of shopping centers tend to show up in the communities we're looking at (while the big box complexes come along with other things that put their communities on the big NOPE list). In the newer and redeveloped areas, the little shopping plazas are part of the overall plan of the community itself, rather than just retail plunked down where people will shop. They're tied into public spaces and work as gathering places along with offering a wide variety of little shops and things like at least one grocery store. It's a bit of a contrived design, but I kind of like it. I definitely prefer it to having to get in the car to drive to a gigantic big box city where you can't even walk from one parking lot to another.

It's interesting looking at failed, or almost-failed malls. We have one downtown that I go to several times a week for my running group. It was built in the 90's as pedestrian-friendly market style shopping center and it completely flopped. For a decade, it was barely hanging on with a weird little assortment of shops and restaurants taking advantage of the cheap rent. What they tried to be in the 90's just didn't work for the culture of the city at the time. Now, 15 years later, it's experiencing a revival. People are moving back into the city and out of the burbs. The river paths have been fixed up and are insanely active during the summer with foot and bike traffic. While there are still weird little shops in the mall, there are also a lot of shops that cater to sports and activities that do very, very well. Healthy restaurants and coffee shops followed those, along with some nice sit-down restaurants that take advantage of the park location, so now when you go down there you'd have no idea it came close to being a dead mall. One of the ideas that did die was their fresh food market, replaced by a normal food court. I wouldn't be surprised if a produce market (or a high end natural food store) would work well now if they decided to try it again.
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Old 21 July 2013, 09:04 PM
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I guess I'm just weird about this. I avoid shopping period across the board but the last thing I want is the return the some Norman Rockwell version of mainstreet where every single category of item you wanted you had to go to a separate store for.

And I really don't get "walkability" if you're buying anything larger then a single meals worth of groceries. It's not uncommon for me and E*E to buy a month's worth of a basic item at once. I ain't carrying a Costco industrial case of Chicken Noodle soup home on my shoulders. And an urban center so cluttered that every store you routinely used was within walking distance sounds like hell to me.

I guess I just look for different things in my shopping. I don't care how "pretty" a store is. I'm there to buy stuff and get out not soak in the ambiance. Complaining that a store isn't pretty is like complaining that a national park doesn't have pizza roles.
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Old 21 July 2013, 09:38 PM
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The malls that fail in my area seem to have a racial component. The demographics in the area around the mall change or mass transit connects the mall to a lower income not exactly white area. White shoppers stop going. I feel gross even typing this. If you build an open air mall or a series of big box stores there are fewer places for people to congregate.

I'm not fond of shopping either but I do like being able to park once and be able to go to multiple shoe stores. My feet are weird shaped and having lots of options means I find that single pair that works. One mall has two clothing stores that meet my needs. If I park in the garage I'm as close to them as I would be in a Target parking lot but with lots more options in my size. Still not a place I would choose to hang out. I mall walked a few times as a new mom just to get some exercise in the middle of winter but felt very uncomfortable there.
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Old 21 July 2013, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
And an urban center so cluttered that every store you routinely used was within walking distance sounds like hell to me.
I understand your other points, but this one confuses me. Aren't urban centers by definition cluttered? Maybe I'm thinking of a larger, denser city than you're talking about. If we're talking a truly urban core, I don't see why the buildings containing stores would make it any more cluttered than those same buildings containing, say, offices. Maybe you just don't like dense urban areas?
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Old 21 July 2013, 09:48 PM
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It's just different lifestyle preferences. Personally, I actually feel claustrophobic in the suburbs, and the thought of having to get in a car to go anywhere other than down the block makes me want to tear my hair out. It's not that I'm a terribly social person, but I'm sensitive to my environment (that's why I originally went to school for design and architecture). For me, my home doesn't end at my front doorstep, so I tend to look at my community as an extension of where I live. I just personally feel more comfortable when my feet are on the ground, and I like that feeling of connection to the environment I'm in. I know not everyone feels that way, but judging by how housing prices increase as walk score does, I'm not the only one. The best way I can describe it is that I kind of go through life in terms of the space I'm occupying - I have a crappy memory for actions and people, but I can tell you visual details of a place I visited once back in the 80's. When I remember something, it's the setting, so setting is important to me. Limiting myself to home, car, office and occasional stores makes me feel boxed in. That's part of the reason I like distance running - it gives me several hours at a time to explore my city by myself on my own two feet, and I just like my city better that way.

That's more general lifestyle than shopping, though. As I said, I'm not a big fan of shopping itself. I'm the opposite in what I dislike, though - I can tolerate shopping if I have a chance to do other things I find enjoyable while I'm doing it. I literally feel anxiety when I have to go into a big enclosed space like wal-mart or Costco, but if I can walk in the fresh air to the market and maybe stop for a coffee, I'll enjoy it. It breaks it down and gives me that grounded feeling instead of feeling like I'm surrounded by swarms of unhappy people in a place that's visually uncomfortable for me. That's another thing that makes a difference - I have some mild social anxiety, and being in places with a more positive overall attitude helps. I know it's not the case for every 'walkable' place, but I just find that people are happier and calmer at farmer's markets and parks than they are in Wal-mart. Drivers and traffic are outright stressful. I know that there's theoretically the idea of a relaxing drive, but all I see on the streets are anger, impatience and rage, and that stresses me out even when I'm not the one experiencing the horrible hardship of having to wait at a red light. I don't know - my brain is weird.

Beyond my personal preferences, there's a backlash against the suburbs in my city because for a few decades, that's all you got. Calgary had one of the the worst sprawl problems in Canada, and the kids who grew up with that in the 80's are now looking for something different. It's nice to have the option of not using a car if you don't want to. I do think that walkable communities lead to overall healthier lifestyles. It makes it a lot easier to stock up on fresh produce a couple times a week and you get a lot of extra exercise in by walking a couple kilometers to and from the store. Since I made myself very sick by being sedentary and eating lazy, processed food, I really try to avoid things that encourage that. And I do think that driving 400 meters from parking lot to parking lot because there are no sidewalks, and running into the type of store that greets you with walls of boxed food instead of produce does encourage poor habits.

This is pretty far away from the original mall question though - but I do think our changing awareness and a slight push to healthier (and more environmentally friendly) lifestyles is influencing the design of the current generation of shopping centers.
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Old 21 July 2013, 09:49 PM
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My hometown has been doing a lot of development in the central part of town over the last 10 years. The idea seems to be to get people to come downtown and spend time doing something other than drinking in dive student bars, which was all there was downtown for many years.

There was a pretty active shopping scene in the middle of town up until the 1960s-70s, when things started moving to the suburbs. Other towns of the same size in the same general redeveloped their centers years before my hometown did, but it had some issues other towns lacked, notably a town-gown relationship that was badly strained by events in 1970. ETA: It's only been the last 10 years or so that the city government and the university have worked effectively together, and the difference is astounding.
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Old 21 July 2013, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
In my time travelling around Canada and the US, I will admit that I have not seen any new enclosed malls.
I see the problem. Your time travelling machine is stuck in reverse. Of course you're not going to see any new malls; you're only going to be able to see the old ones.

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Old 21 July 2013, 10:48 PM
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I can't believe that there haven't been any new outlet malls biuld in that time - those are the ones I've noticed the most and while the strip-mall model may work for having a collection of small stores, I can't see it attracting people during a full 4-season shopping year in most of the US/Canada. The one in Toronto is indoors, as is the one here in Phoenix - understandable that in certain parts of the year you need that to get people to meander from store to store. I can't imagine wanting to walk around outside in Canadian winter, or Arizona afternoon heat, and I don't suppose many people do either.
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Old 21 July 2013, 10:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
And I really don't get "walkability" if you're buying anything larger then a single meals worth of groceries. It's not uncommon for me and E*E to buy a month's worth of a basic item at once. I ain't carrying a Costco industrial case of Chicken Noodle soup home on my shoulders. And an urban center so cluttered that every store you routinely used was within walking distance sounds like hell to me.
I don't think walkability necessarily means having having dozens of different within walking distance. I have Target and Trader Joe's walking distance from my house. Those two stores pretty much cover most of the things I routinely need. I do still sometimes have to drive to get more specialized items, although often I can buy those things online. No, I don't buy in bulk, but I'm usually buying about a week's worth of groceries for myself, not a single meal's worth. I have a cart I use when I'm buying more than I can carry.
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Old 21 July 2013, 11:20 PM
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It's the internet that is killing malls. People buy many miscellaneous high value and specialty items online. In person they buy cheap, bulky commodities where they already know exactly what they want but the shipping would make up a large portion of the price. Big box stores are great at that. Malls served the function of the kind of niche browsing that people now do online. Besides big box stores, the other kind of store that is still doing OK is the luxury boutique. There is still a market for women still want to look at and try on clothes/accessories rather than trusting that they will be accurately represented online.

It's sad going to one of those once thriving ghost malls. Once they start losing some stores and can't replace them, then the mall starts attracting less company and it is a downward spiral until the mall becomes very empty and depressing.
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