What To Do With Malls When They Die?

Devonshire Mall, Windsor, Ontario from Google Maps

WorldChanging recently wrote about some malls in the US that died (or are in the process of dying) and what was being done with the space afterwards. It seems that some malls are being redesigned as mixed-use developments, with arts/community centres and housing. Reusing existing spaces for this type of redevelopment and activity is surely positive, but it seems that some of these projects are being billed as new downtowns. As most malls are built away from other other development, and many are designed around (or rather within) fields of parking lots, should these spaces really be considered a new “downtown”?

If this happened in Windsor, what might be the results? Devonshire Mall is over 1,000,000 square feet. That’s a lot of space for apartments, studios, galleries, shopping, markets, even a school. However, would this type of development just take the focus away from fixing our downtown (or is it already a lost cause?) Also, more questions would certainly be raised about a private space functioning as public space, as even the sidewalks of a “street” would suddenly be under private ownership. Other spaces in the city like old factories, the Home Depot right beside the mall, and even shutdown churches all seem like they could foster a good type of growth by converting those spaces into (hopefully) accessible places for artists, community groups, and housing. How do we start?


One Reply to “What To Do With Malls When They Die?”

  1. Re: What To Do With Malls When They Die?

    If you take a look to the south of the Devonshire Mall you will see that this is already happening in Windsor. It irks me to no end that a perfectly good building and a large amount of land was abandoned by Home Depot. In my opinion, their new location is not even as accessible as the old. I’d really like to know if there is a justifiable reason for them adding to urban blight in our city. What will happen to the old site now?

    We have evolved to throw away buildings and land. Our cities continue to sprawl into the county eating up valuable farm land. Our garbage create uninhabitable mountains. I loose hope that the greed that fuels urban blight will ever be put to an end. As for what to do with abandoned dead malls. I don’t have a solution. Should government impose responsibility on industry to be responsible for re-vamping abandoned land and buildings? Can government make industry responsible? How much government intervention is enough? How much is too much? It all boils down to the community waking up to the problem. Will they wake up? I truly hope so. I know every chance I get I will give my neighbor a good shake.

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