Living at the Mall: Housing Solutions in Unexpected Places

By: Anneken Tappe · November 06, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

From Mall to Manor

The rise of online shopping brought a pile of packages to Americans’ front doors — and shuttered storefronts in the process. Now some city planners are wondering if those storefronts and front doors couldn’t become one and the same.

As America faces a housing shortage, and a sea of strip malls across the country lie abandoned, urban city planners have come up with a creative solution to both problems: Convert malls into housing.

Strip Mall Shuffle

Converting just 10% of America’s vacant strip malls into housing could create more than 700,000 new homes, according to housing nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners.

With almost a billion square feet of strip mall space across the nation, there’s certainly no shortage of space to convert. There’s also a wide variety, as converting malls would create a balanced mix of low-density and medium-density buildings.

Housing Solutions

In addition to bringing down the cost of housing, converting vacated strip malls into housing could breathe new life into other underutilized spaces, like old parking lots.

Of course, zoning issues, and financial incentives for developers present potential roadblocks, making this solution a little simpler in theory than in practice. But as disruptions like e-commerce create unforeseen issues like the one at hand, innovative solutions may be just what’s needed.

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