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10 Uses For Dead and Dying Malls

Mall Rats: 10 Uses For Dead and Dying Malls

Empty swimming pools have always fascinated and disturbed me; they're cold, creepy holes for the better part of the year. Mall season has been coming to its end since the '90s, and more and more empty malls and shopping centers are sitting sad and stark, like inverted pools, off highways across the country.

How'd it happen? For years, developers assumed they'd make money if they built malls bigger than the last. And that assumption was correct, for a while. But they never foresaw what would happen to their big box when a bigger one was built. Now cities that house once-crowning, albeit fake, jewels struggle with lost tax revenue, vandalism and crime, and decreasing property values.

But malls don't have to go to hell. If they haven't been allowed to decay and were structurally sound to begin with (that may be a big if), then they can be retrofitted, greened, and reinhabited. Check out 10 new uses for old malls below — maybe you have something better to add!

  1. Community college classrooms
  2. Libraries
  3. Parks, especially malls built on wetlands that are now environmentally protected
  4. Senior housing
  5. Town centers, incorporated into mixed-use streets with housing, offices, and shopping

To see the rest,


  1. Public and private offices
  2. Community centers
  3. Car dealerships
  4. Nonprofit arts groups
  5. Immigrant mom-and-pop shops


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