Newsweek: Is the Mall Dead?

This recent article in Newsweek questions how appropriate the construction of a new megamall, named Xanadu, outside of New York City really is. The mall is scheduled for completion next summer in the New Jersey Meadowlands, just nine miles west of Manhattan.

Xanadu will not just be your average mega monster mall, but the largest and most expensive one ever built in the United States. With an estimated cost of $2.3 billion, the mall will have some 200 stores, the country’s tallest Ferris wheel, indoor surfing, a mini-city for kids, etc., a concept that begs you to ask, what is the point of having a half-mile “retailtainment” center so close to a city with an abundance of both?

The article also mentions CNU board member Ellen Dunham-Jones and her forthcoming book “Retrofitting Suburbia” which focuses on the decline of malls and other commercial strips, explaining how “Last year was the first in half a century that a new indoor mall didn't open somewhere in the country - a precipitous decline since the mid-1990’s when they rose at a rate of 140 a year”. Nearly a fifth of the country’s largest 2,000 regional malls are failing, and a record number of retail outlets (150,000) will close this year, making Xanadu a very interesting choice of investment in this economic climate.

And especially in a city where Ferris wheel rides at Coney Island, surfing at Rockaway Beach, and shopping on 5th avenue are all easily accessible, and in their own ways a part of New York City’s cultural past time.


More shopping season quoting of Ellen Dunham-Jones

Karen Cinpinski, one of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's "community columnists," quoted Ellen in her Black Friday op-ed on the enclosed mall and its probably dark future. Here's a sharp observation:

"One example is the Bayshore Town Center, which is laid out to resemble Main Street America with a faux village made up of a town square and home-like spaces filled with retail and dining options. There, you don't just shop. The center also flourishes with nighttime entertainment and yearround events. Because of this, such un-malls are the type that could survive the economic hard times and could trump the online market. "

Irony abounds

Does it strike anyone else as sad and really pathetic that Karen Cinpinski's observation also recognizes that we, as a country, still ignore real Main Streets for Potemkin Main Street malls?


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