People used to hang out on their town’s Main Street. A few generations later, they gathered at the mall, giant concrete structures stuffed with shops and restaurants. Now, people are gravitating toward “lifestyle centers.” Basically open-air malls with stores, restaurants, apartments and condos clustered together like a mini-town. Complete with cobblestone streets, trees, fountains, lampposts, and sidewalk cafes. Kind of like Main Street at Disneyland.
Why is this happening? According to USA Today, people prefer being outside instead of in an enclosed mall. Psychologists say that outdoor shopping areas create a more relaxing atmosphere – something sorely needed in the hustle bustle of modern life. It’s also about money. Studies show that the average visitor to a “lifestyle center” spends $80 every hour, versus $56 at a regular mall.
The fact is, enclosed malls have become the real estate equivalent of the white elephant. Nobody wants them and they’re being abandoned or leveled all over the country. Meanwhile, lifestyle centers being built to replace indoor malls are popping up across North America at a rate of 15 to 20 a year. For example, the Creek City Center going up in downtown Salt Lake City. It’s a mix of apartments and condos, with a grocery store, 2 large department stores, and over 100 restaurants and shops. They’re also building a retractable glass roof to keep out the worst winter weather and summer heat. The weekend Otay Ranch Town Center opened near San Diego, California. Some 80,000 people came to gawk at the outdoor fireplace, kid’s fountain, chalk garden, and doggie park.