Three R’s of Shopping Malls – Redesign, Repurpose, Renew
Malls have always held a special place in our hearts. It’s where you spend a day with family and friends, where teens find their first independence in awkward tribes, or where the older generation enjoy strolling and socializing. Visitors may peruse a book, grab a coffee, try on clothes, check out new electronics or see a movie.
It’s no secret that Amazon has disrupted the retail market. With 30 mega-shopping centers across the US currently abandoned and an additional 30% forecast to have significant vacancy by 2022, creatively repurposing these structures could provide huge returns on investment considering they’re often sold well below fair market value. Developers are taking notice and the result is a variety of ingenious mixed-use projects.
1. THE KUSHNER EFFECT
Who better to convert the 1.5 Million SF Monmouth Mall into something trendy? Kushner Companies plans to overhaul the mall that originally opened in 1960 into a 24/7 “live, work and entertainment” development which will include upwards of 700 residential units, retail and restaurant uses, biker and pedestrian-friendly greenspaces and an outdoor plaza. Kushner cited the decline of the traditional enclosed mall and consumer trends of the Millennial Generation as catalysts behind the redevelopment.
2. LIVE AT THE MALL
As the oldest indoor mall in America, the Arcade Mall in Rhode Island underwent massive renovations in 2012. The existing three story structure with a grand open central corridor was redesigned, maintaining retail commercial space on its ground level and converting the top two floors to ‘Micro Lofts,’ ushering in a new type of mixed-use, affordable urban living.
3. GOOGLE IT!
Finding the closed Mayfield Mall in California to be a perfect location for their corporate headquarters, Hewlett-Packard occupied the space for over a decade until Google purchased the site in 2013 to house its Google Glass offices.
4. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE… AND EDUCATE!
While not as exciting as micro lofts and greenhouses, the mall in Illinois was converted into a high school which made a quick impact on the local economy – utilizing the space for a much needed expansion of the existing school system. In Tennessee, the Hickory Hollow Mall added a community center, a community college campus and an NHL practice rink.
Today’s Malls incorporate:
- Art exhibits
- Deconstructed food courts with higher end restaurants and mid-market options
- Empty space used as warehouses for “click and collect” merchandise
- Pop up shops for food and seasonal/local retailers
- Interactive maps and digital tabletops in restaurants
Tomorrow’s Malls will include:
- Increased walkability via transit hubs
- Nano technology for exterior finishes
- Heated parking and sidewalks
- Increases in co-working, living and civic spaces
- Smart parking garages
- Solar panels and other green initiatives for zero carbon footprint
- Downtown experiences like concerts, spas, fitness clubs and farmers markets
Malls of the Future could offer:
- Rooftop dining, entertaining and garden spaces
- In-store digital profiles to personalize shopping experiences
- Seasonal experiences like cooking classes, pop up shops and specialty food stores
- Food courts that resemble street festivals
- Common areas that double as special event and educational experience spaces
- Interactive fitting suites
- Seamless checkout via mobile apps
- Drone delivery negating the need to carry packages
While shopping on-line may offer a level of convenience in an otherwise busy lifestyle, the mall of the future will be based around consumer experiences that go well beyond traditional shopping.