Shopping malls, according to recent stories in USA Today and the Baltimore Sun, are closing, dying or evolving into a new form of open-air shopping. Britain’s Economist adds that as malls spring up around the world, “they are dying in the country that pioneered them.”
The Economist reports an ethnic shift that as suburbs become more racially mixed, cities fill up with hip, affluent whites. “As a result, suburban malls no longer provide a refuge from diversity,” it says. Refuge from diversity is The Economist’s dainty way of pronouncing racism, Baltimore Sun’s Mike Olesker says.
The transformation of the mall and its role in urban and suburban life poses numerous planning issues. Will their decline revive neighborhood and urban shopping or Tesco’s Fresh and Easy option for smaller, more numerous one-stop-shops? Will the “lifestyle center” concept — a mix of retail and residential development in an open-air plaza configuration — impact negatively on where and how people want to live, as Olesker suggests?