What Happens To A Mall Deferred?

Brother Langston’s classic poem “Dream Deferred” is heavy on my mind today. I woke up this morning after dreaming once again that my beloved enclosed mall, the Four Seasons Town Centre, is dying, along with our surrounding neighborhood. The mall had many glory days from the time it opened in the 1970’s, but starting in the 1990’s, I started having these odd dreams about it’s death.

Sometimes the mall would succumb to an earthquake. The concourses on the bottom floor would have perfect fault lines and the stores would be havens for displaced neighbors, with boxes of care packages instead of designer clothes. Other times, I would be on a boat, sailing past the third floor at ground level, knowing fearfully that my house was completely under the water.

These would just be regular dreams and not allegory if not for the rumors that the mall would be moving about five miles further out from the city. The mall was already on the outskirts, with this new revelation, the mall will be over 10 miles outside of the core of Greensboro. Granted, now that High Point’s mall is pretty much on life support, it makes sense to put it where it’s going, halfway between the two, adjacent to what will be a new suburban freeway.

I understand all the logic that real estate companies use when building shopping centers. Yet, in a a new era of localized retail, from all economic demographics, I question the logic. Why take away what’s a useful town center? Is it really the money or is it the color of the people providing the money? Yes, there have been a few violent incidents, yet, we live in a troubled metropolis, a trouble that is not exclusive to the low-income areas. There are foreclosures, lost jobs, ne’er do wells all over. If you build it, they will all come. ALL. Plus, if this is really a town center, then who are we to restrict the access?

Or is it really? Unfortunately, for many, there is no difference. Date nights, back-to-school shopping, morning walks, graduation dinners, lunch breaks. Maybe I chose the wrong place to go all these years.

I don’t get out there like I used to. I live in a different place. Yet, I know how much this place is needed. I don’t think I’d keep dreaming about it if I didn’t.

  • What Happens To A Mall Deferred? http://t.co/k2FDFTzI

  • Greg

    I hate to say it, but the mall is fleeing the incroaching brown areas in the hopes that it’s out of the reach of public transportation and the less profitable people who use it. I know demographics are changing, but I’ve always contended that racisim was one of the primary driving forces behind urban sprawl.

    • Kristen Jeffers

      This is exactly what I see and it’s also been documented in journals, as an international problem. I will update the post soon with that journal article. Still, in light of our culture and how some choose to interpret dreams and visions, and along with Langston Hughes work, I’m doing some exploring of why seeing community spaces die bothers me to the point of bad dreams.

    • I meant to tell you when you first posted this, that this is spot on. It’s exactly what I see, because I’ve seen much older malls live on, because of the demographics of the area. Yet, we also talk about “destination shopping” in old tobacco fields. What about destination shopping in the hood?