It’s time to reimagine the shopping mall.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of shopping malls with leasable space that are considered large (between 800,000 and 1 million square feet) reached a peak in 2009 and 2010, and has since declined. And with recent store closure announcements from J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Macy’s Inc., many markets are seeing mall anchors — and the mall itself — vanish. As a result, local economic development boards are struggling to maintain the viability of the vacant real estate.
James McClelland, chief executive officer of Mack Developers, said in a statement released this afternoon that half of the approximately 1,500 shopping malls today will close within 10 years. Mack Developers, a developer of public and private projects in the Chicago area, said in the statement that “while some see these closures as devastating losses, a little creativity can convert losses into opportunity for local municipalities, businesses and residents alike.”
“Change is inevitable, no matter where you live,” McClelland said. “And when a mall is closed, what we need to do is adapt. We need to understand the experience that the mall created, the Internet tools that replaced it, and what new experiences are needed in that space to foster commerce.”
McClelland said local agencies and developers should work together on mixed-use projects for these vacated spaces. “Rather than trying to replace a failed model with more of the same, communities need to examine what their demographics are telling them,” McClelland said, adding that mixed use also includes youth centers and senior care facilities.
On that last note, aging baby boomers are expected to live longer and require more services than prior generations. In separate data from the U.S. Census Bureau, revenue from continuing-care retirement communities is expected to increase from about $37 billion a year now to more than $41 billion in 2020.