Living at the Mall

Back in the 80s, when teens could think of nothing better to do than hang out at the mall all day, they were referred to as “mall rats.” Well, it seems that mall rats might be back but this time they’re millennials and boomers living in the apartments that developers are building around existing malls. From a story in the Wall Street Journal:

With the One Southdale project, Edina is joining a number of U.S. towns—including those on the outskirts of Phoenix, Dallas and Atlanta—that are trying to appeal to the millennial generation by remaking aging shopping malls as town centers with homes, parks and offices all in walking distance of shopping and restaurants.

“A lot of aging suburbs are realizing that if the demographic is changing, and there are aging homeowners, they can’t just rely on single-family housing for a tax base,” said Bernadette Hanlon, a professor of city planning at Ohio State University. “There is a shift to making more mixed-use developments in the suburbs, so that you’re not separating uses in the same way.”…

Mr. Hovland said One Southdale is part of a broader effort to develop “a village unto itself” around the mall. The city is in the midst of expanding a mile-long promenade project that will eventually connect the mall to a nearby park with footpaths and biking trails lined with sculpture gardens. Three more apartment buildings are planned for locations along the promenade…

Although One Southdale Place is targeting young renters, some empty-nesters have also been attracted to the building. Jan Catherwood, a 78-year-old widow and former secretary at a financial firm, sold her Edina townhome in June and last month moved into a two-bedroom apartment at One Southdale.