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Posted: 2018-11-08 15:54:05

Victor Gruen might have liked what is happening to them as they become more like cities.

When Victor Gruen designed the USA's first shopping malls in the early 1950s, he thought of them as complete communities. He said they were supposed to “provide the needed place and opportunity for participation in modern community life that the ancient Greek Agora, the Medieval Market Place and our own Town Squares provided in the past.”

When he designed Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota, it was supposed to be more than stores; according to Marni Epstein-Mervis of Curbed, "Gruen's initial plans for the compound called for actual apartments, business and medical offices, civic and religious buildings, auditoriums, and utilities." (It was also supposed to be nuclear bomb-proof but that's another story.)

Of course, none of this happened to his malls, and he came to hate them. Emily Badger writes in Citylab:

But the property value around Southdale quickly went up. And instead of developing the full 500-acre site, Dayton’s sold off chunks of it for what would become the kind of "anonymous mass housing" Gruen detested, and precisely more of the commercial sprawl he wanted to eradicate. Repeatedly, his plans did not turn out as he had imagined them, and later in life he bitterly lamented that Americans had debased his ideas.

southdale Mall interiorVictor Gruen Collection, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming/Public Domain

But it now appears that the world is catching up with Victor Gruen. Brookfield, which recently bought 125 American malls, is planning to densify them, bringing in the hotels and residences that Gruen envisaged. Sandeep Mathrani, head of retail for Brookfield, discusses what happens when a mall is intensified:

First, we're seeing that the tenant demand from the retailers has increased [after redevelopment]; they view residential and hotel components to be a source of incremental shoppers... We're seeing sales uplift where we are putting in the condominiums or the residential... Second,

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