Shopping Malls are Reinventing Themselves for 21st Century

America’s malls, along with much retail nationwide, are in decline. And as more and more of them close, developers are left to reimagine how to use the often-massive space.

Seattle’s Northgate Mall was of the first shopping center to use the moniker, “mall,” making it the oldest of its kind in the United States. But as more and more retailers flee failing indoor shopping centers, Northgate Mall may become another first of its kind, by redeveloping to become something else entirely.

When word of an NHL expansion team came, lots of areas were bidding to be its home. The arena, we now know, will be at a reimaged KeyArena. Northgate won the bid to house their practice facility—right where the mall is located. The retail stores are packing up, and it will become a mixed-use space, with the practice facility its hub, and surrounded by offices and housing.

The practice facility is slated to open in 2021, and many of the mall’s stores have already packed up, or are holding massive sales to clear their inventory before they shutter.

There’s a YouTube channel devoted to sharing the ghost-town atmospheres of dead malls – some of which have closed completely. For these former commerce hubs, exactly how Northgate transforms over the next two years could be a case study of how they can redevelop spaces in order to create more vibrant communities.  

Aaron FreemanComment