Shopping malls can be new town centers

In presenting preliminary plans on five different communities in metro Atlanta on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 14, Andres Duany shared ideas on how to retrofit suburban shopping malls.

Duany, considered the father of new urbanism, said malls are between 120 and 180 acres. They are strategically located on arterial roads. And they have (now often vacant) big box stores that can be converted for new uses.

“All the parking lots are just building sites,” said Duany, adding that the centers of malls can be turned into town squares or piazzas reminiscent of Sienna, Italy.

Then Duany spoke directly to students of architecture and design.

“The big player over the next 20 years is converting these malls into new town centers,” he said. “This monster (suburban shopping centers) is going out of business. They are perfectly located land banks for future town centers.”

Those town centers can include apartments, hotels, shops, affordable and elderly housing.

“That’s the way you need to look at shopping malls,” Duany said, adding that there are hundreds of such malls all over the country. “You will have town centers everywhere.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

1 reply
  1. Cutdomplad8 says:

    Family shopping started with the horse and buggy. The automobile and suburban shopping malls changed that. But it was nothing in comparison to the impact of the internet family online shopping malls. AND it has just begun.
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