As shopping malls face difficulties, there is now a common script for how to revive them. Aurora, Illinois is discussing what to do to help Fox Valley Mall and the proposed playbook exemplifies the new script:
That plan, unveiled last fall, called the Route 59 corridor “tired.” It noted that two of the four anchor spaces at the mall are vacant, with the departure of Sears and the closing of Carson Pirie Scott. People’s shopping habits have changed, it says, with people buying more of their items online instead of in person.
The plan suggests adding multifamily housing and “Main Street” mixed-use developments, with smaller stores in a pedestrian-friendly environment around the mall. That would beef up the mall’s potential customer base.
Market studies suggest adding more restaurants, particularly high-end ones. Entertainment venues, such as a theater and a public plaza several acres large, could be added.
Build it and they will come! Seriously, though, each of these proposed elements is intended to bring a different element to a flagging mall: more people, a different scale and harkening back to traditional shopping areas, and giving people more reasons to come to shopping areas through food and entertainment. Put these all together and it might create a new kind of synergy around the clock.
Of course, none of these are guarantees. And plenty of other shopping areas are trying this (just a few examples here, here, and here). Perhaps the best thing going for the proposed changes at Fox Valley Mall is its location just west of Naperville and plenty of nearby wealthy residents. While some shopping malls will not be able to be revived with these techniques, the Fox Valley Mall will likely change some and continue to do okay or even thrive.