When Planning Fails: Downtown Malls in Mid-Size Cities by ProQuest


The article concentrates on a failed planning strategy, deployed in numerous places over a thirty year period: the erection of shopping malls in the downtowns of mid-size urban areas. Virtually all such malls experienced decline, from a chain and department store orientation to a focus on independent stores and, most recently, on offices, call centres and community organizations. These transitions were accompanied by rising vacancies and much reduced traffic. As a result, not only did these malls lose their catalytic role in the revitalization of downtowns, but they have become outright liabilities. The presence of large shopping malls reduces the suitability of downtowns to a new breed of revitalization strategies, which emphasize street orientation and the preservation of historical architecture. The failure of the downtown malls strategy is blamed on the assumption that mid-size urban areas can maintain hybrid urban structures that are both dispersed and centralized. A compounding factor was an elite-driven planning process centred on growth coalitions with a stake in downtown mall development. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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