New rehab trend: repurposing vacant malls
The new fashion for mixed-use developments or outdoor shopping centers that are designed to look like a friendly downtown is taking its toll on the enclosed mall. Many cities and suburbs have dead and dying malls on their hands.
Some organizations are repurposing dead or dying malls. Rackspace, a San Antonio company that offers cloud-computing and web-hosting services, converted a vacant mall into a new headquarters for more than 3,000 employees. The company spent more than $100 million gutting and redoing the space.
There are several other examples of non-retail mall repurposing nationwide. In Cleveland, part of a mall has been converted to indoor gardens, making it a potential model for urban agriculture programs. The University of the Incarnate Word has leased space in another San Antonio mall. Vanderbilt University has converted space in a Tennessee mall to open a clinic. Patients are given pagers so that they can get a snack from the food court while they wait. Hundreds of high-school students in Joplin, Missouri, are taking classes in a converted mall after the town’s high school was destroyed in a tornado last summer.