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Thread: Mall 'disguised' as urban street (article in Slate)

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    Cyburbian
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    Mall 'disguised' as urban street (article in Slate)

    Here's an interesting article from Slate.com. I wonder if anyone has any opinions on it (bad thing? good thing?).

    http://www.slate.com/id/2116246/

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    Cyburbian ilikefish0's avatar
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    The lifestyle center thing does seem a bit dishonest to me, but the prototype for this, the plaza, I think, in Kansas City is very intriguing. Any one want to correct me on the name or give some info?

  3. #3
          abrowne's avatar
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    http://www.slate.com/id/2116315/ - "Am I in Barcelona?"

    Agh. No. You are in Anywhere, USA. Note the stucco addiction and omnipresent palm trees.

    I really don't understand this concept. Why don't they just build buildings on city streets like normal people? They can even buy property on both sides of the street, if they want, and for blocks, if they want. Strange.

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    Cyburbian chukky's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    http://www.slate.com/id/2116315/ - "Am I in Barcelona?"

    Agh. No. You are in Anywhere, USA. Note the stucco addiction and omnipresent palm trees.

    I really don't understand this concept. Why don't they just build buildings on city streets like normal people? They can even buy property on both sides of the street, if they want, and for blocks, if they want. Strange.
    I think the whole concept of a mall relies on monopoly... you have to own it ALL. and if you build on a street... there are all these pesky people who may open their own business adjacent on the next lot down. No matter what a mall looks like they can easily be located away from the any competition. In fact isnt it a delibarate policy of mall developers to locate away from anything and everything? I know thats what happened in my town.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I think that while this type of development is a bit contrived, it is a step in a positive direction. There is a whole generation or two of people and developers who fled the cities for the suburban lifestyle beginning in the 1950s, and developed a negative attitude toward anything resembling urban commercial areas.

    If developments like this make more of the general public aware of what can be pleasant about shopping in a streetscape, rather than an enclosed mall or a big box surrounded by asphalt, it is a step toward making these people more likely to shop in a revitalized or new "real" (not all under one ownership) downtown.

    I also see it as a stepping stone for some of the big-box tenants that modify their store design to fit into this type of development, then able to make the next step to single-site development in an urban area.

    It's not all about the design, it's also about what works economically and what is accepted socially.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    The retailers in our lifestyle center have reported either feast or famine depending on the weather. Apparently, residents in this Midwest burgh aren't ready for a true urban shopping experience.

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    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    In Novi Michigan there is a place called Fountain Walk which was build in 2002.

    Here is an official Fountain Walk website.

    I've been there once or twice, it not the same as the mega lifestyle centers like the Kirkland Commons in Scottsdale Az. I visited that place last April when I was in AZ.

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Good Thing.....

    Getting rid of the huge indoor malls can only be a good thing for us consumers and residents. The term Lifestyle Center is a marketing tool and nothing else. If designed well, these centers remind me of mini-large downtowns and that can only be a good thing.....I think.......Retail (lenders/developers/corporations) seems to allow itself to be transformed every 30 years or so and this is just the latest transformation. The last 30+ years of indoor malls has been the "disco"/ leasure suit era of retail in my opinion and I look forward to better centers in the next 30 years. I hope the big box thing takes a break soon, it is just part of a bigger transformation in retail that will peak soon.....(I hope).........
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    A few observations:

    First, based on the article.

    The tone is overwhelmingly negative. Lifestyle center may sound hokey but it is no more meretricious than ‘mall’, if you’ve ever seen London’s Mall or other historic streets. Shopping village may be a name but I mean, who cares?

    “They represent a bait-and-switch routine on the part of developers, one that exchanges the public realm for the commercial one.”

    What drugs is this guy taking? The alternative to this thing isn’t Greenwich Village, it’s a box island in a sea of asphalt.

    “This is civic life in America, circa 2005, and it's spreading”

    It sounds a damn sight better than civic life in America I experienced in the 1980s Midwest. Why is this guy moaning?

    “Not quite. Lifestyle centers are privately owned space, carefully insulated from the messiness of public life. Desert Ridge, for example, has a rigorous code of conduct, posted beneath its store directory.”

    The issue is, do these new-wave malls reduce the amount of public realm or not. If they do not, then what the hey. Also, if people felt this was undesirable, it would not be too difficult for state legislatures to pass basic rules of what can and cannot be mandated/forbidden in a private space open to the general public. Just as NYC forbids a bar from allowing smoking, presumably Arizona can forbid malls from preventing “excessive staring”.



    Also, “chukky” wrote:
    “I think the whole concept of a mall relies on monopoly... you have to own it ALL. and if you build on a street... there are all these pesky people who may open their own business adjacent on the next lot down. No matter what a mall looks like they can easily be located away from the any competition. In fact isn’t it a deliberate policy of mall developers to locate away from anything and everything? I know that’s what happened in my town. “

    A small spatial monopoly is unlikely to lead to “rent” extraction; anyone can just drive to another mall or downtown, if they are inclined. The point of malls, rather than monopoly, is convenience (real or presumed) and some degree of planning/coordination (mostly the internalization of some externalities, like department stores getting cheaper/free rent because they are a draw for the specialty stores).


    Posts: 2 I think that while this type of development is a bit contrived, it is a step in a positive direction. There is a whole generation or two of people and developers who fled the cities for the suburban lifestyle beginning in the 1950s, and developed a negative attitude toward anything resembling urban commercial areas.”

    I totally agree.

    “boiker “ wrote:
    “ The retailers in our lifestyle center have reported either feast or famine depending on the weather. Apparently, residents in this Midwest burgh aren't ready for a true urban shopping experience.”

    Does anyone like getting rained/snowed on? . I would steer clear of criticism of an urban form/business development that relies on a judgement that ‘unsophisticated’ people are stupid. It may be the case, but if so it is unlikely to be solvable. Arcades and large canopy trees to some extent can ameliorate this in outdoor shopping but if we want to have the benefits of ‘proper’ shopping streets some of the strengths of the mall (not for nothing they started in frozen Minnesota) should be faced openly. This is especially true when, as is the case in most rich economies, shopping is essentially a past-time rather than the collection of necessary items.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by skyfire
    I think that while this type of development is a bit contrived, it is a step in a positive direction. There is a whole generation or two of people and developers who fled the cities for the suburban lifestyle beginning in the 1950s, and developed a negative attitude toward anything resembling urban commercial areas.

    If developments like this make more of the general public aware of what can be pleasant about shopping in a streetscape, rather than an enclosed mall or a big box surrounded by asphalt, it is a step toward making these people more likely to shop in a revitalized or new "real" (not all under one ownership) downtown.

    I also see it as a stepping stone for some of the big-box tenants that modify their store design to fit into this type of development, then able to make the next step to single-site development in an urban area.

    It's not all about the design, it's also about what works economically and what is accepted socially.
    The lifestyle center is really just a mall without a roof. These developments tend to be built on greenfields and are surrounded by acres of parking. You just don't see it in the promotional photos.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chukky
    I think the whole concept of a mall relies on monopoly... you have to own it ALL. and if you build on a street... there are all these pesky people who may open their own business adjacent on the next lot down. No matter what a mall looks like they can easily be located away from the any competition. In fact isnt it a delibarate policy of mall developers to locate away from anything and everything? I know thats what happened in my town.
    Plus management can't kick the teenagers, bums, panhandlers and protesters off of public streets.

  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ilikefish0
    The lifestyle center thing does seem a bit dishonest to me, but the prototype for this, the plaza, I think, in Kansas City is very intriguing. Any one want to correct me on the name or give some info?
    I lived about five minutes from Country Club Plaza while I was doing time in KC.

    Country Club Plaza was built in the 1920s by J.C. Nichols, a local real estate developer. The company owned and managed the center until just recently. Country Club Plaza was built on the site of an old country club a few miles south of downtown KC, hence its name. (The development also included upscale single family homes and high-rise apartment buildings.)

    It really isn't a shopping plaza as we know it, but rather a grid of public streets integrated into the city's elaborate parkway system, lined with retail buildings designed in a consistent Spanish/Mediterranean theme --a style that was trendy at the time -- and managed as a single entity. The retail buildings have free parking integrated into the rear or in ramps above; there's no surface parking except on the streets. The site is rather hilly; it's not what you would expect when you hear the word "Kansas." (CCP is on the Missouri side, a few blocks from the Kansas state line.)

    Country Club Plaza looks upscale, but originally it was intended as an uptown shopping district. It used to have a Sears store, gas stations, and other businesses catering to day-to-day needs. Today the tenant mix is more like what you would see in a lifestyle center; upscale stores and restaurants, the majority national chains.

    The area around Country Club Plaza is like an urban Edge City; almost a second downtown only with a much better street life and decent shopping. Kansas City has its core downtown, but there's two uptowns; the Crown Center area and the County Clib Plaza district. Downtown has very little retail, and Crown Center is a massive, 1970s-style self-contained complex of high-rise office buildings, hotels, apartments and shoppping centers; unlike Country Club Plaza, there's little streetlife despite its prosperity.

    CCP is centrally managed, but the streets are all public. Unlike lifestyle centers, street life in Country Club Plaza includes buskers, street performers, and the occasional beggar.

    I can't think of an equivalent in any other US city. Shaker Square in Cleveland was also built in the 1920s, and originally intended to be a functional clone of Country Club Plaza. However, it has far less retail space and very little office space; it's essentially a small town square surrounded by 1920s-era mid-rise housing. At least Shaker Square is served by rail transit. Maybe Cherry Creek in Denver, only that area is anchored by a large enclosed shopping center, and it wasn't built as a siungle unified development; it just grew into a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood with upscale retail, housing and offices. Cherry Creek isn't as attractive as Country Club Plaza or Shaker Square, but it's far tonier.


    By comparison, here's Country Club Plaza in KC:





















    Shaker Square in Cleveland












    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    Why don't they just build buildings on city streets like normal people? They can even buy property on both sides of the street, if they want, and for blocks, if they want. Strange.
    Buying a large, contiguous block of land adjacent to major streets can be difficult in much of the United States, especially the Northeast and Great Lakes region. Engineers -- and many suburban residents, too -- want to keep traffic flowing with as few interruptions or conflict points as possible; that rules out on-street parking and frequent pedestrian crossings. Major streets in many suburban areas tend to be very wide and very busy, and not conducive to casual strolling. Do you see yourself window shopping on a street with six lanes of traffic and a center turn lane? (The Champs-d-Elysees is not a fair comparison; it's a short boulevard that is functionally much different than a typical American major arterial.)

    I think developers can do a better job at integrating new shopping centers into existing streets. For instance, they can create a new "Main Street" that is perpindicular to the major road fronting the site. Winter Park Village in Orlando comes close to this.

    The lifestyle center near me, Legacy Village, is sited more like a classic shopping mall, separated from surrounding streets by parking and thick landscaping, only there's no roof, and a driveable street is in place of a central corridor. It's still much better than a typical strip plaza, though.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  13. #13
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    well.....

    Those photo's of Country Club Plaza look good to me.....It seems like a good place to do some shopping and eating, if the weather wasn't to harsh.....There must be a big time connection between the weather and income in these outdoor malls in places with 4+ months of questionable weather.......It would be cool to read a market study that compares monthly income between open air malls in warm weather vs. cold weather areas, with similar populations.......
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  14. #14
    Member Jeff_Rosenberg's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    if we want to have the benefits of ‘proper’ shopping streets some of the strengths of the mall (not for nothing they started in frozen Minnesota) should be faced openly. This is especially true when, as is the case in most rich economies, shopping is essentially a past-time rather than the collection of necessary items.
    Luca has an excellent point here, and this is the reason I am hesitant to just dismiss malls. The concept of a mallo, in general, I don't find particularly offensive. It's the way they've always been done, since Gruen designed Southdale -- sorrounded by parking, totally blank on the outside, not meeting the street.

    I think lifestyle centers have a lot of positive aspects to them, although ironically enough, they forego the climate advantage of malls.

    I don't see any point in referring to them as an "artificial" enivronment or something like that. If they're good urban design, and some of them are, then that's great.

    Another thing that's really good about them is that they are helping to change public preferences as far as urban form.

    The thing I absolutely cannot tolerate, though, is non-public streets. Dan's example of County Club Plaza is a great model, and one that should be considered over a lifestyle center with private streets.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerByDay
    In Novi Michigan there is a place called Fountain Walk which was build in 2002.

    Here is an official Fountain Walk website.
    I was there a few weeks ago when I was visiting friends. It took forever to find a parking spot. Also, I did not see any residential use what so ever. I thought that it sucked. We walked down the "walk" to Lucky's, it was as if we were walking between a Wal-Mart and a Sams Club. It did not have a downtown look, feel or anything. I thought it looked more like several attached big-boxes.

    What I don't get is why not move things back into a downtown?
    There is one Lansing that I have been to a few times, but I just don't understand why they are not in a downtown.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis

    What I don't get is why not move things back into a downtown?
    There is one Lansing that I have been to a few times, but I just don't understand why they are not in a downtown.
    The developers and retailers don't believe their customers will come to a downtown. They don't believe the extra costs, whether time or money, of dealing with consolidating properties, designing buildings that will fit onto small existing sites, etc. will give them an adequate return on their investment. Whether this is perception or reality, when their money is involved they don't want to take the risk. Therefore they are doing what they know has worked in the past, a mall development on a greenfield site, with only a small risk, a change in design form. And even that sometimes doesn't happen...note the suburban strip-mall commercial development that was plugged into New Ubanist Kentlands, MD.

    And again, it is also a case of the retailers following their customer base. If the customer base is in sprawling suburbia, that's where the stores thing they should be.

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Do you see yourself window shopping on a street with six lanes of traffic and a center turn lane? (The Champs-d-Elysees is not a fair comparison; it's a short boulevard that is functionally much different than a typical American major arterial.)
    I understand your point.. But what about Michigan Avenue in Chicago?

  18. #18
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    I understand your point.. But what about Michigan Avenue in Chicago?
    Last time I was on Michigan Avenue I didn't have 45-55mph traffic whizzing by trying to make timed 1/4 mile seperated signals. Also, doesn't Michigan Ave, or at least portions of it have on-street parking, frequent drop-off areas, bus stops, and other impediments to free flowing traffic?

  19. #19
    I must say first that I just hate malls, but I'll try to be objective

    From the point fo view of an european like me, the biggest issue around malls is the fact that you enclose all the activity inside a "big box" and, as a consequence, streets and neighborhoods around tend to be less lively.

    That's why I prefer the street shopping style. I guess thats because I really do think that streets should be the n1 concern of all urban designers : "dead" streets will make your neighborhood look and feel dull whatever you design around.

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    I assume you're talking about Les Halles? That's not exactly the same thing because these are specifically greenfield developments (IE, they're being built out in the edges of the metropolis next to interstates, with nothing around them).

    Michigan Avenue actually has a mall on it, Water Tower Place. It seems to me that the urban malls, provided they're not done on a massive scale like Les Halles, can work (like department stores) as traffic multipliers, rather than pulling traffic away the street.

    A "lifestyle center" is a greenfield mall that's designed to look like a traditional downtown, but it's still surrounded by a sea of parking and built out next to the freeway interchange.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Cardiff, Wales, and I'm sure quite a few other cities have numerous arcades. These are victorian era shopping centers usually located mid-block in the central busines district. They are enclosed but aren't as sterile and 'private' feeling as malls.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    I assume you're talking about Les Halles? That's not exactly the same thing because these are specifically greenfield developments (IE, they're being built out in the edges of the metropolis next to interstates, with nothing around them).
    I was talking about malls in general, compared to traditional street shopping. A mall does increase traffic around it but in most of the cases car traffic only but not pedestrian activity. But's thats true that the only mall I have experienced really is Les Halles in Paris which I hate

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Ah, the Plaza

    The Plaza in KC is great. Really Great. And yes, if I was designing a new town it would be one examplar that I would refer to.

    "skyfire" wrote:
    "The developers and retailers don't believe their customers will come to a downtown. They don't believe the extra costs, whether time or money, of dealing with consolidating properties, designing buildings that will fit onto small existing sites, etc. will give them an adequate return on their investment. Whether this is perception or reality, when their money is involved they don't want to take the risk. Therefore they are doing what they know has worked in the past, a mall development on a greenfield site, with only a small risk, a change in design form. And even that sometimes doesn't happen...note the suburban strip-mall commercial development that was plugged into New Ubanist Kentlands, MD.
    And again, it is also a case of the retailers following their customer base. If the customer base is in sprawling suburbia, that's where the stores thing they should be."

    Hard to disagree with that. I think that is why the city/planners need to insist on appropriate urban forms that allow people to ahve a reasonable enjoyment fo their property but still place sotres, civic buildings, etc. within walking distance. Also, downtwons must be as welcomign as possible, within their physical cosntraints, while foten they seem to want to frustrate the motoris on purpose.

  24. #24
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    Residential levels

    An uneducated lurker here but I like a lot of new urbanism concepts and I guess we're all "stakeholders". Like to expand (puff up?) on michaelskis' point : "Also, I did not see any residential use what so ever"

    I don't see why these developers don't see opportunity in building more residential units within mall environments - and most certainly in a "mall" setting presented in the article. You basically have people paying you to be close to your store. Mitigates weather effects. You could fine tune your mall customers by the type of residentials you build. For example, here they may have a "food court" which could be a round-about of mainly restaurants. Have the second floors form a ring of 1-2 bedrooms. Think Melrose place with the bottom floor businesses. Even with greenfield projects, it's got to be on the way to somewhere. Is there a magic distance that's not too far to drive for shopping but to far to make a commute?

    As a complete amateur, I'm ignorant of the many of hurdles that may exist. My instinct is that the common issue would be mall developers don't want the headache of running residential property. Joint ventures with people already in that biz perhaps?

    What residential they do put in usually doesn't seem to pop. They seem to ignore what I thought was an important component in new urbanism- demarking neighborhoods. My amateur guess here is simple cost. They build everything so multi use they lose flavour. Retrofitting gives your character neghborhood character, what's that worth is the question I suppose. On re-look at thread, I like the looks of Country Club Plaza in Dan's post. I guess that balcony in photo 4 is residential. I'd prefer something a little more obvious, like small apartment unit entrances sharing a street side courtyard with a coffee shop or something.


    As a side note on the effects of weather on sidewalk foot traffic: My home town of Ottawa enclosed both sidewalks on one of the main downtown streets, along a section bisecting a mall (the "Rideau Centre"). It was pulled down about 15 years after it was put up. Main reasons cited were cosmetic and it being used as a hang out (of the non-impulse buying kind). Wondered if anyone did their Master's or PhD on the failure. lol
    Last edited by Cloud's Realm; 08 Apr 2005 at 3:32 AM.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983
    Cardiff, Wales, and I'm sure quite a few other cities have numerous arcades. These are victorian era shopping centers usually located mid-block in the central busines district. They are enclosed but aren't as sterile and 'private' feeling as malls.
    Leeds has some fantastic examples, too - noj may have some photos, but I don't. And I agree, I much prefer arcades to the more modern shopping centres in those towns where I have seen them.

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