Have you been to the Owings Mills Mall recently? I haven’t — and hardly anyone else has, either. The once-vibrant mall is one of dozens of enclosed shopping malls that have either closed or are close to it.
Yesterday’s New York Times front-page article about the economics of dying malls used the Owings Mills Mall as a case study, blaming its decline on changes in shopping habits, shifting urban planning trends, and even income inequality. (Newer outdoor-style malls aimed at swankier customers are thriving, while traditional indoor malls like the one in Owings Mills are the ones that are struggling.)
Some of the indoor malls that fail get demolished and paved over. Others become playgrounds for squatters or dead mall fans (check out these photos of an abandoned mall in Bethesda to get a sense of how spooky these spaces can look). Some, however, get the chance to be reborn– which is what developers are hoping to do in Owings Mills. Instead of scrapping the structure entirely, developers are hoping to reconfigure it into an indoor/outdoor mall hybrid, a la the Avenue in White Marsh, and anchored by Target/Best Buy/Costco type stores, rather than J.C. Penny-type department stores.
Will it work? That remains to be seen; if you want to see the mall in its current state (which the Times describes as “zombielike”), it’s still open — barely — through the end of 2015.
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