Apartments and housingcome to the shopping malls of the OC

Orange County might be as paradigmatic of postwar suburbania as any county in the United States. Now, its shopping malls are in for a change many malls are considering: adding apartments and housing units.

“This is really our opportunity to create something that we can be absolutely proud of for the next generation to create those same fond memories that I have and that others have in a fashion that is consistent with what the times are now,” Cordon said.

Bill Shopoff said his company, which purchased the Macy’s store and the former Sears store in the Westminster Mall last year, hopes to draw people back with shops, a hotel, townhouses and apartments…

As for who will rent or purchase the homes in his preliminary plan, Shopoff is counting on a modern type of suburban dweller — one who would rather walk to restaurants and other amenities than live in a single-family home with a yard.

Experts say that new laws, along with increased pressure from the state to build more homes, have convinced some local officials who might have been resistant to rezoning commercial properties in the past…

In Laguna Hills, the mall is being repurposed along the lines of Caruso’s Los Angeles-area developments, with up to 1,500 apartments, an upscale hotel, commercial office space and 250,000 square feet of stores surrounding a large green space.

This is one of the leading strategies in a competitive shopping malls market. By building apartments, developers can add residents who will be on-site and who will patronize restaurants and stores as well as remove some of the commercial property that is now hard to fill in the Internet economy. The idea is that the malls become vibrant, mixed-use locations where people are out at all hours consuming goods and food.

If all the Orange County malls go this route, will they all make it? Even in a relatively wealthy area, not all the malls will survive.

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