The Future of Malls Could Look More Like Towns

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Many traditional retailers and restaurants try their newest, craziest ideas in Columbus because they know successes there can scale. The city has been dubbed the “Silicon Valley of retail.”

Columbus has shoe stores with nail and hair salons, outdoor apparel stores with freezers to test the warmth of jackets and Wendy’s restaurants with robot waiters. And this mall that wants to be a town when it ‘grows up’.

The future of malls could look more like towns
axios.com, Nov 21, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a surprising twist on the manufactured downtowns that have spread across suburbia, a developer in this central Ohio city — looking to survive amid a retail apocalypse — is doubling down on the much-derided mall.

Why it matters: Turkish developer Yaromir Steiner plans on expanding his mall into a bona fide town at a time when thousands are downsizing. Columbus has long been known as a test market, as its population is a near-perfect microcosm of the country. If a new model for malls as towns works in Columbus, it’ll work across America, experts say.

Steiner tells Axios he envisions a real town where you can rent an apartment, go to work, do your groceries, go out to eat and even go clubbing on Saturday night. It won’t be known for a while if Steiner is onto something. But he is spending $500 million on the gamble.

The big picture: Sixteen years ago, there were 6 bustling malls in Columbus. Today, after the same shakeout that has killed malls across the country, just 3 are left. Developers are reaching for ploys to save millions of square feet of mall real estate.

By the numbers: Columbus’ Easton Town Center is building 700 apartment units, an additional 230,000 square feet of retail space, 300,000 square feet of office space and a new hotel. The development will add to Easton’s 90-acre plot, which has 240 stores and makes around $900 million a year.

Why Columbus could be a model:

Many traditional retailers and restaurants try their newest, craziest ideas in Columbus because they know successes there can scale. The city has been dubbed the “Silicon Valley of retail.” Columbus has shoe stores with nail and hair salons, outdoor apparel stores with freezers to test the warmth of jackets and Wendy’s restaurants with robot waiters.

“They’re completely rethinking the future of retail,” says Amy Liu of Brookings. Read More 

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