How can we repurpose dead malls and big box stores?

I did a story about Costco's decision to lease out space at a couple malls around the country. (Listen here.) It got me wondering about other, less lucky malls and big box stores. You know the ones; shopping centers that were consumer wonderlands that quickly faded to empty, or near-empty, irrelevance. (The website deadmalls.com keeps a state by state list of failed and failing malls.)

It turns out that, in some communities, people are trying to repurpose these shopping centers. According to Julia Christensen, author of Big Box Reuse communities are using empty big box stores for everything from charter schools to a Spam museum.

And some malls are being turned into mixed-use housing developments.

One example: the 40-year old Natick Mall in Boston was given new life as the Natick Collection--a a high-end shopping center with 215 luxury condos. The development has struggled, as the Boston Globe reports, developers sold less than 40% of the condos before turning to auction to unload the rest.

Do you know of any successful mall or big box reuse projects? Got any ideas? I'd love to hear about them.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Sean_Marshall

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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