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.”