Done in by e-commerce, the pandemic, and changing consumer values, the traditional cookie-cutter shopping mall is (mostly) dead in Canada. But from the ashes of “de-malling” may come something more vibrant—and environmentally sustainable.
“Several Toronto-area malls are slated for redevelopment, and all will have something in common: condos, shopping, and green space, melded together into what developers hope will be a community,” reports the Toronto Star.
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The pattern is repeating across the country. Mall owners and their retail tenants are trying to figure out how to survive and thrive, despite consumer tastes swerving sharply away from temples to shopping replete with “reflective marble-like floors, the predictable middle-tier retailers, and the cut-and-paste food courts.”
In one branch of its evolution, the 21st-century mall will become the home for many more things than just shopping, orienting more toward providing services and entertainment—and a much better selection of food—than its precursor. Conceived as places where people will spend a great deal of their time, living and working and not just shopping, the structures will be linked to transit hubs and other aspects of the local 15-minute city.
In other cases, however, the 20th-century mall will be reduced to something far bleaker, the Star says: “dark-store” facilities with vast acreage that once welcomed the relative vibrancy of stores, employees, and shoppers being converted to fulfilment centres peopled only by those who labour within them.