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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ship In A Bottle. Village In A Mall.

It’s absolutely fascinating how some very creative, artistic people can build a ship in a bottle. It takes time, effort, and perseverance to accomplish such a task.

The ship in the bottle is safeguarded from the outside environment and protected from the natural elements of climatic change and shifting weather patterns. That is analogous of how I think of enclosed shopping malls.

For the life of me, I do not understand why some developers have proposed to tear off the roof of an enclosed mall such as the Southwyck Mall in Toledo, Ohio and recycle it into an open-air shopping center. To me, that is just plain dumb. Can you spell S-T-U-P-I-D?

Why would an open-air shopping center be any more lucrative than an enclosed climate-controlled shopping mall in a geographical area that has extremes in weather from the hot to rainy to freezing cold to snow? Please give me a logical answer. I am at a loss to understand the reasoning given me thus far.

I wish some real estate developers would take the concept of a ship in a bottle and apply it creatively to abandoned enclosed shopping malls. Think about it. Imagine if you will a village in a mall.

Take an abandoned or near-abandoned mall and create a self-contained village, I envision a small village under one roof that contains: a nursing home, assisted living units, independent living efficiency and one-bedroom units, medical (doctor, dentist, ophthalmologist, lab, x-ray, etc.) offices, pharmacy, grocery store, dollar general store, hardware store, library, post office, barber, beauty salon, bowling lanes, multi-use theater, diner, theme restaurant, sports bar, coffee shop with free wi-fi, and an indoor park with class roof.

I like that. Instead of tearing down, instead of building anew, it gives expanded use to the concept of recycling. It gives new breath and new life to environmental eyesores that pose the public heath risk of rat-infested abandoned buildings.

How about converting not only Southwyck Mall but also North Towne Mall, a.k.a. Lakeside Centre, in Toledo, Ohio into weather-protected villages. Hmmm. A village in a mall. What do you think?


Tim Higgins said...


The problem is that you are confusing creativity with SSDD. The open mall concept has been growing in recent years because it allows the developer to build only as much as he has rented and add to it as necessary. Easton Towne Center in the Columbus area is a prime example.

As for the Village concept that you hope for, it may come some day; but probably only somebody can come up with a way to siphon tax or development money from the government.

As we move towards government controlled health care and retirement, we may in fact see such complexes; but I fear that they will not have the hopeful vision that you hold for them. Rather I am afraid that they will become government run slums for the aged.

Hooda Thunkit said...


I see three things right off that make it a loser right out of the chute:

1. It is logical.

2. It makes perfect sense.

3. And it would save money.

These three things alone put out of the realm of government involvement.

Now for the practical side, Southwyck for example has a roof that has been so neglected over the years that it would cost an ungodly sum to abate the asbestos hazard and replace the whole roof.

So, any savvy developer would likely bulldoze it and start over from scratch, building up the shell and core services/amenities while roughing in the rest for custom finishing on demand and for a tidy profit to boot.

Why, the parking lot isn't even worth saving, but the land would be if an urban villa design were adopted.

(I have a roughed-out plan for such a (High End) "Geezer Villa" complex already drafted, if you're interested, but it's definitely beyond government pricing...)


Ben said...

I am probably one of the only people that hate outside malls. Ones like Easton in Columbus. They are too spread out, it is either too hot or too cold and parking always sucks.

Traditional malls only for me.