Shopping malls as residential centers? OK if all levels of income are included

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial

Echoing a national trend, some of the struggling malls that once dominated suburban retailing in the Philadelphia region are being reborn as communities for living as well as shopping. The evolution from single to mixed-use development is an opportunity for more than a mere re-brand of a faded consumer destination or a way to repurpose at least some of the millions of vacant square footage that a shift in retail habits has created.

And while many of these vast, formerly retail spaces are impractical for conversion into residences, sprawling mall parking lots can easily be made ready for residential construction. Together with new or existing stores, offices and restaurants, the old mall can become the nucleus of a new community — one that may offer a solution to the pressing need for affordable housing.

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