Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Repurpose the American Mall

American Malls are dying. It was expected that by next year, 1/4 of malls would close. That was pre-Covid. There a lot of dead malls, and quite a few dead big box stores (think Walmarts that have moved). What can be done with them?

May I suggest a reasonable solution.

Americans are getting older at a quick rate. Even if we allow increased immigration, the numbers of old people will grow. And many will spend some time in a retirement home. Many retirement communities, and most that are being built now, are aimed at the affluent retirees. Think of The Villages in Florida.

Affordable cost, or public housing is less than ideal, at least the ones I have visited. So let's take technology and squandered resources and see how to make life better. 

Therefore, I would propose we take the shell of a mall, combine many of the small shops into larger spaces, and clean out the anchor stores. And, inside put / built out small container homes for the elderly.

The mall already as plumbing and electricity. It will be cheaper to provide a heat / cooling to the mall, which is already there. That means that the homes doesn't have to temperature regulated - and therefore have custom house does not need insulation put in. The area around each home can be turned over to planters, walkways and seating areas.




Each anchor store, or enlarged groups of stores, can set up different neighborhoods, maybe with a similar style of housing, or with different community buildings. There is plenty of room for a clinic, drug store(s) and small supermarket in already created stores. There are plenty of emergency exits.  You could very easily hire guards / security to manage the one or two regular entrance / exit points.


Many elderly people already belong to Mall Walk Groups. If you repurpose the mall, the central areas can create wide and winding paths.

Mall owners could subsidize the repurposing by selling the majority of the parking lot to developers. This would require city support, so you need a project or two to prove the concept with a willing government. The small container homes could easily house the basics (bedroom area, small kitchen / living space and a bathroom). The community could provide common areas. You could even keep some of the parking to build outdoor parks - so that people could sit in the sun and so the little yappy dogs could be walked.

If you ever passed a huge project for older Americans, you will see many of the residents sitting outside on plastic chairs yearning for company. In a repurposed mall they can have company that can visit day and night. They can walk and live safely. the infrastructure to inspect these homes is already in place.

 In expensive cities (New York, San Francisco, LA) you could even let one neighborhood be available to teachers / city employees that can't live in the city now to prices.

These garden areas could be inside and outside. Of course, then would be concrete, painted to look like this for ease of walking / walkers.


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