10 Creative Abandoned Mall Makeovers
Suburban shopping malls became an American institution in the 20th century, but today, due in large part to stiff competition from online vendors like Amazon and others, many of the indoor malls opened in the past half-century have fallen on hard times. Some are still struggling to attract business, some have already been closed and fallen into ruin, but others have been creatively revitalized for new purposes.
Location: Austin, Texas
Founded as one of Austin's first suburban malls in 1971, the 81-acre Highland Mall was very near vacant in 2010, when the neighboring Austin Community College began acquiring the property. The school since turned portions of the defunct mall into a naturally lit education center whose first phase opened in 2014. This year, the school marked the opening the ACC Bioscience Incubator, which provides lab space for companies to develop products such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Location: Oliver Springs, Tennessee
The Tri-County Mall was vacant for years following its decline in the '90s, until it was purchased in 2009 by the Beech Park Baptist Church. The church since converted a 30-lane bowling alley into an 800-seat sanctuary to fit its growing congregation, and a department store has been transformed into classroom space.
Location: Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson's first mall opened in 1970, but by the late '80s, it had lost most of its business to other shopping malls in the area. But in 1996, Dr. Aaron Shirley set about revitalizing the mall into its current iteration as a healthcare facility for Jackson's underserved communities, now called the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center. (Editor's note: This slide has been corrected to indicate that this facility is in Mississippi.)
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
This mall opened in 1967. About half of its 800,000 square feet was leased to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2007. The rest of its space is still reserved for retail businesses. Today, patients, students, and nearby residents can browse the mall's remaining stores as well as visit the university's onsite clinics and administrative offices.
Location: Mountain View, California
Northern California's first indoor mall was closed in 1983 to become an office complex for Hewlett-Packard. After HP moved out, Google purchased the former mall in 2013 with plans for an ambitious domed campus that didn't quite earn the city council's approval. Instead the space has been turned into a more modest office space and is Google Glass' headquarters.
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
America's oldest indoor shopping mall opened in 1828. Over the course of nearly two centuries, the center fell into disuse and was closed in 2008 with plans for multimillion-dollar renovations. In 2013, the Westminster Arcade reopened as Arcade Providence, a micro-apartment complex consisting of 48 300-square-foot units as well as a retail floor with a boutique, hair salon, café, and restaurants.
Location: Niagara Falls, New York
This indoor mall lasted only 17 years before going under in 1999 following the closure of anchor retailer Burlington Coat Factory. One-third of the mall was renovated and reopened in 2012 as the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, including seven unique teaching kitchens. Also onsite are a Barnes & Noble bookstore, an Italian restaurant, wine boutique, deli, and patisserie.
Location: Antioch, Tennessee
The Hickory Hollow Mall held 249 retail stores at its peak, but only a dozen when it was closed in 2012. It found new life only a year later as the Global Mall at the Crossings, featuring American and internationally owned retailers now built around community centers like a public library, recreation center, ice rink, and a satellite campus of the Nashville State Community College.
Location: Voorhees Township, New Jersey
Opened in 1970 on the site of a former airfield, Echelon Mall languished as it lost anchor stores throughout the '90s. It was renovated and rechristened as the Voorhees Town Center in 2007. The Voorhees Town Hall was relocated to the mall in 2011, making the Town Center only the third U.S. mall to house municipal offices.
Location: Windcrest, Texas
The cloud-computing company Rackspace purchased this San Antonio area mall only two years after it officially closed in 2005. The tech firm spent more than $100 million converting the Windsor Park Mall into a whimsical workspace complete with a giant chessboard and two-story slide. The space can even be explored via Google Street View.
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