Some of Simon's mall + housing is for lease, some for sale. But with two really big, successful REITs engaging in this, I had to ask, "Why?"
Someone has answered this question:
(In fact, someone answered this question 10 years ago, see below for the update on the properties mentioned in it:
Basically, if you want to build in the inner ring, you need a big parcel. Parking lots are nice, since demo for them is simple. Malls have _big_ parking lots. You don't even need to get rid of the mall (look at Northgate in Seattle, or, for an unrelated business with similar issues, a second gate for Disney - DCA - in Anaheim, and a DVC development for DisneyWorld - BLT - in Orlando.); just take some of the parking or maybe replace it with a garage.
The Housing Wire URL refers to Belmar in Lakewood, CO.
KB Homes built "row homes" for-sale housing. There's a wide range of for-sale and for-lease options (including live-work, down to studio, definitely up to 3+ bedrooms). It spreads over several blocks, and the complex does in fact include a grocery store (Whole Foods).
The developers of Belmar appear to be Continuum Partners (but for all I know, there were a huge number of participants; I can't tell). Check out their website, in particular, I've _never_ seen a big developer with a recommended reading list.
The Sacramento Bee article from ten years ago mentions the apartments at the Paseo Colorado in Pasadena. They're a going concern ten years on, charging high rates (much higher than 10 years ago, when it opened).
The Santana Row development worked out well, also. The search would suggest that up to 4 bedrooms exist in the complex, altho nothing bigger than 2/2.5 is currently available for rent.
CityPlace in Long Beach is owned/operated at least in part by Archstone (one of the really huge REITs; relatively recently bought a building in Belltown). It doesn't look like Mizner Park has fared as well as some of the others, but that's probably a regional effect.
Amusingly, according to the Housing Wire bit, the Natick development by General Growth was built on a Wonder Bread factory site, just like Legacy at Pratt, which was built after we left Seattle.
The list so far of where to get space to build in the suburbs: malls, defunct industrial (Wonder Bread factories, Jacobsen Marine in Seattle, all of South Lake Union's development), bowling alleys. R. thinks defunct country clubs should appear on the list in New England, but I haven't found an instance yet. We still have working farms providing greenfield development opportunities (apparently that's what truly contentious zoning gets you).