Failing Malls: Optimizing Opportunities for Housing

California, as most of the country, is facing a transformation in retail. Increasing Internet shopping, especially the growth of Amazon, and the increase in same day delivery, have ushered the closing of anchor stores, such as Macy's, Sears, JC Penney's, and the increasing closure of regional shopping malls, which have sizable footprints, ranging from 40-100+ acres. This trend offers opportunities for the redevelopment of failing malls to address a pressing needs in California, the need for housing, especially, affordable housing, and efficient transit provision for such redevelopments. The housing shortage has reached a crisis stage in many parts of California, especially in the Los Angeles metropolitan region, which has one of the lowest home ownership rates, and the lowest vacancy rate for rentals in the country (US Census 2017). This opportunity to redevelop failing malls into housing, mixed use developments may be foreclosed by another trend--the increasing demand for in-town warehousing space to address same day, and 1 and 2 hour deliveries. 

Through an analysis of a national shopping mall database, this project will identify distressed shopping malls in the four major metropolitan areas in California, and from among this set of distressed malls, develop case studies for 4-6 regional malls to include an analysis of their neighborhood context, including proximity to transit, traffic congestion, neighborhood characteristics and zoning, market demand, government incentives for redevelopment, and, in particular, their potential for housing redevelopment. Additionally, this project aims to develop case studies of recently converted malls, and their characteristics, and based on the case studies and reviews of the relevant literature, to develop a set of sustainability criteria useful for redeveloping distressed mall sites incorporating environmental, social and economic criteria, including existing and potential transit services. Finally, this project aims to apply the criteria to the case studies of both failing malls, and recently converted malls.


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