Four Ways Old Malls and Strip Centers Are Coming Back to Life

North Hills Mall Plaza from the Roof of Renaissance

Yes, I know North Hills Raleigh is a great retrofit of an old mall. But it’s still mostly retail. Read below and find out more about other rebirth options. (Image credit: Flickr user radellaf).

I know in my last post I came down pretty hard on the lifestyle center trend. However, living up the street from an enclosed mall that regularly gets business makes me wonder if it’s the form of the mall that matters as much as the function.  Still, economics does matter in many cases and malls do fail. Our second enclosed mall died a slow death partially for being near a landfill, while the “lifestyle center” was one of the first major outdoor strip malls in the state of NC. It had been written off when the enclosed malls opened and now it has it’s own addition and all of the “upscale” stores. Then there are the two major bigbox thoroughfares.  It’s all in the perception of a place. Which leads me to list four ways that malls can and have come back to life:

Schools: In Florida, a school building looks nothing now like the Kmart that once embodied it.

Churches: Here in Greensboro, a Kmart still bears it’s marks, but inside the place is clearly an arena-style worship center. It’s one situation where the large parking lot is full at least once a week as if it was Christmas.

Hosptials: In Nashville, TN, this mall now houses over 20 health clinics as well as some of the remaining stores.

Daycares: This California center has even gained a second story.

While some of these are technically big box retrofits, the idea of reforming old, once vibrant, shopping strips and enclosed areas is alive and well. Notice how these are general community uses, not commercial stores that may fall out of favor with shoppers. What are some other examples of good mall and strip center retrofits?