The Future of American Shopping Malls

In 2020, shopping malls will be dead. At least that’s what deadmalls.com predicts. Fortunately, for shopaholics, the mall isn’t quite dead yet. But the shopping mall as we know it is fading. Fast.

According to Iona Collage sociology professor William Egelman, one major problem causing malls to close is their reliance on large anchor stores. “When they go out of business, the whole mall is affected,” he says. Online shopping hasn’t helped either.

But hope is not yet lost for the retail mall. The future holds a new retail experience that’s actually not so new. Instead, it’s returning to its roots; when a mall was not just a mall, but a place of entertainment, culture, and gathering. In the coming years, expect a 21st-century twist on that model, with multi-use, sustainable, livable communities that merge retail, entertainment, and residences and bring a new urbanism to the suburbs. Welcome to the American Mall 2.0.

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Mark Schulman is the co-founder of Design Development, the firm creating many of the future mixed-use projects being planned throughout Westchester. He hopes that these new lifestyle centers will create a new kind of community in Westchester that feels more like a city neighborhood. “These fortress-like structures have killed downtown. They are all interior. Instead of creating a community, malls are isolated from the surrounding environment.”

Schulman’s designs for multi-use centers are based around “creating really good public space that integrates multiple uses and generates a synergy with the existing community.” The goal of these centers is to attract people, whether or not they need to shop. Already in Westchester, we have a few lifestyle centers up and running. The City Center in White Plains and New Roc City in New Rochelle have successfully combined multiple uses and draw thousands of people each day to shop, dine, and socialize.

Schulman’s firm is planning some of the largest and most innovative mixed-use centers. In Yonkers, the River Park Center will include movies, retail, restaurants, offices, residences, and a minor-league baseball field. In New Rochelle, LeCount Square and the Lawton Street Urban Renewal are two of the largest projects in the works.

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