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Old 10-01-2008, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,212 posts, read 45,870,912 times
Reputation: 11048
Question Are Urban Shopping Malls Now White Elephants?

I can name several cities here in the North where "urban renewal projects" years ago led to the demolition of scores of historic yet vacant brick buildings to make way for indoor shopping malls that were supposed to serve as catalysts to spur further downtown redevelopment initiatives. In the year 2008 I am having a difficult time naming any downtown indoor shopping mall here in the Northeast that is "thriving," save for the Providence Place Mall in Providence, Rhode Island, which seemed to be quite vibrant when we vacationed there several years ago.

Here in Northeastern Pennsylvania there are three major indoor shopping malls in the immediate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. There is a new "lifestyle center" just south of the city limits of Scranton, an outlet center about a half-hour southeast of the city, and more big-box stores and "power centers" in the suburban periphery than you could shake your fist at. Scranton is the only local city with a downtown shopping mall. The Mall at Steamtown was built in the early-1990s when historic buildings along then-blighted Lackawanna Avenue were imploded to make way for a new two-story indoor shopping mall. At the time it was supposed to "save" our city. Now in 2008 many tenants have fled to the new lifestyle center just a few miles away in the suburbs. There is no longer a book store there. Two of the mall's major anchors---Boscov's and Steve and Barry's---may potentially be out-of-business if they don't have a decent Holiday shopping season this year. Massage parlors, nail salons, dollar stores, etc. are now leasing space in the formerly-upscale mall that still has a few vestiges of its former heyday---Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Victoria's Secret, etc.

By most accounts Steamtown has now become a "white elephant." Many locals, including myself, feel that it was asinine to isolate the stores away from the rest of downtown instead of making it feel like an open-air plaza that would encourage people to meander around to check out the galleries, boutiques, restaurants, etc. on adjacent streets, all of which are struggling to stay afloat given our nation's impending recession. We'd like to see the northerly half of the mall (facing Lackawanna Avenue, a major thoroughfare downtown), torn down to expose the southerly half of the mall to the rest of downtown with an open-air courtyard with benches, fountains, vendors, etc. in the wake of the demolished half of the mall.

Are indoor downtown shopping malls in your city failing as well? If any ARE succeeding, then how exactly are they doing so? It would be interesting to bounce ideas off of one another. I'm reading a thread about failed downtown malls in both Buffalo and Rochester as well, and I believe there was a similar problem with a downtown mall in one of Ohio's major cities.
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:31 PM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
24,925 posts, read 31,755,507 times
Reputation: 10577
San Francisco has some downtown malls.

Embarcadero(dunno if its called a mall or just center)-bascially the bottom floor of the 4-tower Embarcadero Center..mainly just the office workers who are employed in the upper buildings go there during lunch. Mainly gift shops, luggage stores and what not. There's also like this artsy movieplex. Kinda boring.



Crocker Galleria-Versace, Ralph Lauren and some others. Not very big and mainly serves the office crowd in the financial district. Not very exciting either..
http://www.ifp.uiuc.edu/~jjjarami/Fotos/2004-03%20Fulbright%20seminar/Crocker%20Galleria.JPG (broken link)

San Francisco Shopping Center-Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, a Century Movie Theater, an Upscale Grocery Store and about 200 boutiques. Pretty big I suppose.





Crocker Galleria and SF Center benefit from being so close to Union Square..



Last edited by 18Montclair; 10-01-2008 at 04:42 PM..
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:34 PM
 
Location: SF Bay Area
10,257 posts, read 13,412,655 times
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There really aren't that many indoor malls in San Diego, all but 4 are outdoor malls and have always been that way. Only one of the indoor malls seem kind of empty and lifeless to me, Plaza Camino Real in Carlsbad. The other 3 seem to be doing fine and one recently got a really nice renovation and is doing great from what it seems. But overall none of the indoor malls, except one (Plaza Bonita), have nearly as much foot traffic as all the outdoor ones.

Today they announced a renovation of the outdoor mall downtown, Horton Plaza. It's kind of walled off from the street b/c when it was first built downtown was empty and run down but now that the areas is booming they want to open it up to the street.


Current Pic:


New Redesign:


Santa Monica recently demolished it's indoor mall downtown, Santa Monica Place, which is next to the 3rd St Promenade and is rebuilding it so it's open to the outside. I never understood why they even built an indoor mall that is 2 blocks from the ocean in the first place b/c it never gets hot or cold at that location.

Last edited by sav858; 10-01-2008 at 04:46 PM..
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Old 10-01-2008, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Houston
5,477 posts, read 7,294,966 times
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The Shops at Houston Center is Downtown Houstonís only shopping mall containing over 200,000 square feet of quality retail space. This unique facility houses an exciting and growing collection of shops, restaurants, personal services and professional service providers beneath a vaulted atrium stretching the length of two full city blocks. The Shops at Houston Center is an exuberant urban environment in which to stroll, shop and dine in the heart of Downtown.
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Old 10-02-2008, 08:51 PM
 
Location: New Mexico to Texas
4,580 posts, read 9,409,407 times
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I heard the mayor say that malls are kinda the thing of the past, it might've not a been those exact words but something like that, one of our old malls is gonna be turned into a new outdoor lifestyle center, I guees those are the in things now.

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Old 10-02-2008, 08:58 PM
 
Location: Chicago
3,306 posts, read 6,131,641 times
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That San Diego outdoor mall looks really nice, that first picture is really cool looking.
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Old 10-03-2008, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
24,925 posts, read 31,755,507 times
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I definitely prefer "Lifestyle Centers" to traditional malls. They at least attempt to integrate with the surrounding neighborhood-even though sometimes they seem totally fake.

Santana Row in San Jose is a very, very nice one.






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Old 10-03-2008, 11:42 AM
 
Location: West Cobb County, GA (Atlanta metro)
9,125 posts, read 21,174,203 times
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When I moved to Atlanta in the early 80s, the mall swing was in full force. They were popping up everywhere in the suburbs. Inside the actual city however, there really aren't many malls. Downtown, there is our own version of San Fran's "Embarcadero", because architect John Portman who built the Embarcadero center in SF also built "Peachtree Center" here in Atlanta, which is an almost exact duplicate, down to the small underground mall area. Aside from that, north of downtown in the more ritzy "Buckhead" area you have Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza - both of which do very well, actually due to their higher-end stores. A developer is building a VERY high-end mini-neighborhood of boutiques, hotels, and restaurants in the Buckhead area. Interesting for Atlanta but I'm not sure how it'll fly. Called the Streets of Buckhead. To be finished late next year.

The rest of our malls are outside the perimeter (the beltway that surrounds the city). There's about a dozen or so major enclosed malls, not including a few specialized ones here and there. Most do ok - Atlanta is a car city and a mall city still - there is no shopping district to speak of downtown at all, so malls still have a following here.

The new trend here however, is for outdoor shopping complexes where you have shops on the ground floor and condos and/or apartments above them. They're starting to pop up all over the place. The largest is inside Atlanta called Atlantic Station and it has several neighborhoods, as well as a lot of retail (IKEA, etc). There are much smaller copycat versions of it now popping up in the suburbs.

Examples:




Another trend is for what are basically just open-air shopping centers, but they try to design them like small town main streets - similar to the photos above, only with no residential housing above them. Some of them are semi-upscale, though, such as the Avenues of West Cobb (http://www.shoptheavenue.com/FindAnAvenue/TheAvenueWestCobb/tabid/88/Default.aspx - broken link)(near where I live).

Me? I go to the Dollar Store and Target. LOL
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Old 10-03-2008, 03:08 PM
 
Location: New York City
2,326 posts, read 5,971,429 times
Reputation: 1050
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScranBarre View Post
I can name several cities here in the North where "urban renewal projects" years ago led to the demolition of scores of historic yet vacant brick buildings to make way for indoor shopping malls that were supposed to serve as catalysts to spur further downtown redevelopment initiatives. In the year 2008 I am having a difficult time naming any downtown indoor shopping mall here in the Northeast that is "thriving," save for the Providence Place Mall in Providence, Rhode Island, which seemed to be quite vibrant when we vacationed there several years ago.

Here in Northeastern Pennsylvania there are three major indoor shopping malls in the immediate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. There is a new "lifestyle center" just south of the city limits of Scranton, an outlet center about a half-hour southeast of the city, and more big-box stores and "power centers" in the suburban periphery than you could shake your fist at. Scranton is the only local city with a downtown shopping mall. The Mall at Steamtown was built in the early-1990s when historic buildings along then-blighted Lackawanna Avenue were imploded to make way for a new two-story indoor shopping mall. At the time it was supposed to "save" our city. Now in 2008 many tenants have fled to the new lifestyle center just a few miles away in the suburbs. There is no longer a book store there. Two of the mall's major anchors---Boscov's and Steve and Barry's---may potentially be out-of-business if they don't have a decent Holiday shopping season this year. Massage parlors, nail salons, dollar stores, etc. are now leasing space in the formerly-upscale mall that still has a few vestiges of its former heyday---Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Victoria's Secret, etc.

By most accounts Steamtown has now become a "white elephant." Many locals, including myself, feel that it was asinine to isolate the stores away from the rest of downtown instead of making it feel like an open-air plaza that would encourage people to meander around to check out the galleries, boutiques, restaurants, etc. on adjacent streets, all of which are struggling to stay afloat given our nation's impending recession. We'd like to see the northerly half of the mall (facing Lackawanna Avenue, a major thoroughfare downtown), torn down to expose the southerly half of the mall to the rest of downtown with an open-air courtyard with benches, fountains, vendors, etc. in the wake of the demolished half of the mall.

Are indoor downtown shopping malls in your city failing as well? If any ARE succeeding, then how exactly are they doing so? It would be interesting to bounce ideas off of one another. I'm reading a thread about failed downtown malls in both Buffalo and Rochester as well, and I believe there was a similar problem with a downtown mall in one of Ohio's major cities.
Well, I live in Stamford, CT--a city of about 120,000+ people. Although we are 45 minutes to NYC, we have the Stamford Town Center Mall, right in the heart of downtown. Opened in the early 1980s, the mall saw semi-hard times by the late '90s and early '00s. Filenes went out of business in 2005 (I think) and it sat vacant for about a year. But, in 2006 they demolished it and replaced it with a homerun. Now, there is an "open air" plaza with a Barnes and Noble, an H&M, a PF Chang's, Capital Grille, California Pizza Kitchen, Kona Grill, etc. The mall also created a food court to replace what was just a row of restaurants.
The anchors are now Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, and the outdoor plaza. The mall has seen a Yankee Candle, JCrew, Ross-Simons Jewelers, Bebe, Chanel, Abercrombie kids, Zara, and other upscale stores come to open since the expansion.
The mall is actually thriving now more than ever. There are a few vacant stores--maybe 5 or 6--but most have "coming soon" signs on them, too.
When the mall was originally built, it was built to block street pedestrians and it was like a "fortress". Now that it has opened itself up on this one side, it is succeeding and drawing people into the mall. That's the key.
Also, Stamford is becoming a high-end magnate for luxury builders. We have a soon to be completed Trump Tower, a luxury tower called "Highgrove", where luxury condos begin at $1.25 million, and a planned Ritz-Carlton condo/residences. There are many large corporations in Stamford too, which help promote stores coming to the mall: GE, UBS, RBS, Phillips, Purdue, Aeon, GenRe, etc....
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Old 10-03-2008, 08:55 PM
hsw
 
2,066 posts, read 4,257,076 times
Reputation: 1356
With the likely deep recession and decreased tax revenues for many major urban regions, would guess police will be understaffed to deal w/likely more crime around affluent urban shopping areas...

Have already noticed far more homeless and such in Manhattan (a place that miraculously cleansed itself in '90s)....and the recession is just getting underway....

Perhaps US will, at least for a few yrs, revert to the '70s-'80s model of affluent avoiding crime-infested, high-tax urban centers w/costly but dense parking....and prefer to stay insulated in high-end suburbs and by traveling via own private automobiles, as opposed to mass transit or walking streets amongst the economically diverse masses...upside of recession is fuel and new cars become cheaper and most have less interest in discretionary shopping/travel anyway....

Know many who live in SF's PacificHts who avoid Union Square for any shopping....UnionSq is filthy/smelly, w/lame parking and annoying homeless and survives as a tourist attraction for those visiting SF (esp many visiting from NYC region who want to buy stuff sales tax-free at certain stores) and those from SF's bridge and tunnel suburbs in EastBay and Marin....

Much easier and more elegant to drive down to Stanford Shopping Center for any shopping in SF region....and, for more serious stuff, BeverlyHills is a far more civilized, upscale, suburban shopping experience than any urban shopping experience that I've seen....in fact, given BH's weather, clean streets and vigilant police, greatly prefer to walk around BH for shopping vs walking around Manhattan's Fifth/Madison Aves....
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