Dying malls? “There’s a huge opportunity in all of that under-performing asphalt.”

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Sorry, but no tears for Sears.

Column Dying malls offer a chance to build something better — and address how our lives are changing, by Steve Lopez (LA Times)

… malls were enjoyable enough for a few decades, especially when it rained and you needed to get the kids out of the house. But the formulaic chain-store sameness of malls grew tedious, and I ended up longing for the authentic Main Streets that were killed off by malls, big-box discount stores, and, in recent years, digital shopping.

Now a lot of malls are dead or dying.

Not all of them, by any stretch. The Del Amo Mall, for instance, and the Glendale Galleria seem to be thriving, thanks to some combination of location and marketing strategy.

But shuttered windows and “For Lease” signs are now common at many of Southern California’s three dozen or so malls. They dot the land in various stages of fossilization, thanks in part to the fact that many people now prefer to do their shopping without having to put on their pants or leave the house. One recent report said that up to 25% of shopping centers could close in the next five years.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. The market works the way it works …

SNIP

Malls I can do without, and rather than hold a wake, we should celebrate the opportunity to put so much concrete and asphalt to better use.

What do we love to complain about in Los Angeles?

Everything, pretty much. But atop many a list are a lack of housing, especially affordable housing, and a lack of parks.

So here’s our chance to put all that real estate to better use.

“The indoor mall is an anachronism, and its time has come and gone,” said Rick Caruso, developer of the outdoor Grove and Americana on Brand, upscale destinations that offer more than retail and are often packed with people who don’t even go there to shop.

Not everyone loves the Caruso concept, but he was onto something in predicting the death of malls and knowing what consumers wanted in their place.

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