walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Other Uses for Dead Malls


So far, I've been focusing on mall redevelopment that is driven by private development looking for a profit. The New Old Age blog post I described in the previous entry was attempting to redirect this stream of activity and money towards public services (aging in place for suburbanites). I find that improbable for a variety of reasons (I'm not even going to touch the moral/idealogical/idealistic aspects of it because there's just no point).

Earlier in my attempts to explore Our Economy of the Future Today, I posted a bunch about changes to lighten regulation of agricultural products grown within cities and suburbs (legalizing some aspects of urban farming). The above URL is about a mall in Cleveland, The Galleria (how many towns used _that_ name for a mall?), which opened in the mid 1980s, thrived in the 1990s, and then fell on hard times in the early 2000s.

"Much of the space that had been occupied by boutiques was soon snatched up by a banking chain called the Dollar Bank."

Thinking this is a mall headed down the payday loan route? Think again:


Dollar Bank's HQ opened at the Galleria in 2008, but development for that started in 2007.

Prior to that (altho the article makes this very obscure): "Then in 2005, Poole decided it was time to try and rehabilitate the mall she’d spent years working in by getting a bit creative. "We installed a curtain in our food court and used it to create an events center,” Poole says. That small step proved to be very effective. “It’s become a vibrant place where people can hold weddings and other events.”" And there's some reason to think that the food court never suffered, altho the shops were vacant. The Galleria is downtown, was part of a downtown revitalization effort, and the food court got solid lunchtime traffic throughout.

So don't think "cheap tent wedding"; think, "using a nice space in the evenings".

"Last year, Poole began working on a more ambitious project to transform the Galleria Mall from a dying retail space into a greenhouse that would not only help educate the city about healthy food, but provide it."

Not so much.


Really cool project, but this is no squatter urban farm in Oakland raising pigs for meat, poultry for eggs and meat and dumpster diving to avoid having to pay for all the feed. This is an educational project and a foodie thing and, honestly, a wtf moment for urban workers.

It's a little sad that an article tried to find parallels between the Galleria in Cleveland, and dead malls being turned into churches. (For the record: the mall become church was older, died when the Galleria was booming, and its tenants included a hardware store. NOT the same.) The total amount of money spent by the church to buy it at auction and to renovate it is almost certainly chump change compared to what goes into making the Galleria what it is today. But then characterizing Belmar in Lakewood, CO as "repurposed to serve as a housing development" defies belief.

The article has some other weird things in it ("While few would ever protest having a hospital or a new water park added to their community" -- try googling NIMBY and either hospital or water park and see what you get), the balance of the article is arguing that a shuttered mall is worse than a no-tax-revenue-creating community center, church or other community-service oriented not-for-profit reuse strategy. While that is true, look at the evidence rallied in support of this thesis:

"He highlights one particular shopping center, the Dixie Square Mall in Chicago, which sat vacant for years. “The roof caved in, homeless people moved in and a lot of crimes happened there,” he said. This hurt property values for the suburban community nearby."

It is moments like this when I truly love google, wikipedia, etc.


Dixie Square Mall opened in 1966 and _closed in 1978_. And has been sitting there ever since. There are a lot of reasons for this, but even a superficial glance at a map suggests that the mall was misplaced from the beginning. The story is quite horrifying and surely did not in any way help the town of Harvey, but suggesting that this could happen anywhere a mall is shuttered is like believing in the boogie man.

Until gas prices spiked high and stayed high enough to focus our collective attention on the impossibilities of living dozens of miles from where we work and shop and attend school and have a good time, figuring out what to do with a dead mall was a Problem. Once we realized we couldn't keep pushing the periphery further out from any meaningful center and accepted we were going to be crowding in on top of each other, dead malls became a Solution. But the developers are acting while the commenters are desperately trying to catch up (I include myself in the latter category, of course).

Oh, and in case it isn't obvious. All those foolish/evil property owners who sat on dead malls for 10-15 years and didn't do anything with them? I'm thinking that over the next 10 years, they're all going to be getting heavy press for their brilliant patience.

(Regarding the placement of the mall/Harvey's woes: north of Harvey is a major switching/container yard and east of Harvey is _another_ major switching/container yard and south of Harvey is yet another substantial rail yard. I don't know the names of any of them. I don't think there's a comparable suburban location anywhere else in the US, outside of Chicago. It's like being on the "wrong side of the tracks", only to the third power.)
Tags: our future economy today, real estate
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