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NYT mall analysis worth a look before Norwalk makes a decision

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To the Editor:

With apologies to NoN, whose reportings of our mall discussions have been examples of superior and unbiased journalism and will continue, it’s important to bring your attention to another well-crafted report from today’s NYTimes (1-4-2015) about the state of malls in America today, please take a look at:

Business Day | NYT Now

The Economics (and Nostalgia) of Dead Malls

By NELSON D. SCHWARTZ        JAN. 3, 2015

And, by all means, check some of the more than 400 comments and also take a look at the slide show.

While the report admits that a few high-end malls continue to do well, D.J. Busch, a senior analyst at Green Street reports that affluent Americans “will keep going to Short Hills Mall in New Jersey or other properties aimed at the top 5 or 10 percent of consumers. But there’s been very little income growth in the belly of the economy.”

Also pointed out as a contributing issue in the declining health of malls is the withdrawal of high-end anchor stores such as Lord & Taylor from malls that promised high-end shopping but lost their elevated aspirations. Need we point out that Norwalk is not Short Hills nor is it Rodeo Drive?

Mark Hinshaw, a Seattle architect, urban planner and author adds, “I have no doubt some malls will survive, but major segments of our society have gotten sick of them.” The article goes on, “… the fundamental problem for malls is a glut of stores in many parts of the country, the result of a long boom in building retail space of all kinds.

The article also recommends a look at www.deadmalls.com, a site that lists, among the mall situation across the entire country, dead or dying malls in Connecticut: Bristol Center Mall, Bristol; Chapel Square Mall, New Haven;  Charter Oak Mall, East Hartford; Farmington Valley Mall, Avon; Hartford Civic Center, Hartford; Lafayette Plaza/Hi Ho Center, Bridgeport; Manchester Parkade, Manchester; and Meriden Mall, Meriden.

Anyway, it’s worth a look before the scheduled review of General Growth Properties Inc.’s plan for a regional shopping center on the 95/7 site off West Avenue is presented during a joint meeting of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and Common Council’s Planning Committee. The special joint meeting of the Planning Committee and Redevelopment Agency is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m., in Room A3OO of City Hall, 125 East Ave.

Rod Lopez-Fabrega

Comments

37 responses to “NYT mall analysis worth a look before Norwalk makes a decision”

  1. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    Apologies to readers of NON. I just discovered on testing that access to the link to the article in the NYTimes given above only works if you already have a NYTimes registration.

    This is a very good reason for you to keep up with and support Nancy-on-Norwalk, which gives you the news without all this membership nonsense…

  2. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    Try this: http://www.newyorktimes.com, then do a search for “The Economics (and Nostalgia) of Dead Malls”

  3. Wineshine

    Thanks Rod. I posted a comment to a past NoN post about this article when I saw it yesterday. A must read for Norwalkers. For some reason, although I was not signed in, I was able to access the NYT link you posted.

  4. Bruce Kimmel

    Interesting article in the Times. We should note that, for better or for worse, it clearly states high-end malls are “thriving.”

  5. Haley

    Confidential to Rod Lopez-Fabrega :
    “the membership nonsense” helps pay the salaries of reporters and editors. NoN needs money to operate, too.

  6. Amanda

    @Bruce, I feel like a broken record repeating this…GGP has stated that this will not be a super luxury mall (see: https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/07/ggps-mall-pitch-reaches-one-sono-businessman-enthusiastic-retiree/)

    This leaves us with the same mediocre menu of all the other malls. I simply can not see how this will tie Sono together. Our restaurants are suffering and turnover is high. I hope the planning commission and redevelopment agency think REALLY hard about the potential backfiring this could have on our town. It is simply wrong wrong wrong.

  7. Mall Wasteland

    It is becoming clear that this site would be better left undeveloped than to build a mall. A mall will be a huge loss to tax payers and the common council should listen to the emerging consensus that this is a bad idea. I agree with prior blog posts that extra police, fire, emergency personnel, more wear and tear on road infrastructure, entitlements for the influx of non living wage jobs would be a drain and a net loss to taxpayers despite claims from GGP execs to the contrary. Further, the illusion that Norwalk would receive partial state tax revenue is wishful thinking at best given Hartford’s deficit woes.

  8. Gordon Tully

    I would add to all the excellent reasons noted for not building this disastrous mall that its design is appalling. Their primary design intent appears to be making the mall a glitzy billboard to attract customers passing on I95. It has as little to do with the character of SoNo as any billboard.

  9. Wineshine

    Readers, also please note that GGP was the original owner of the Owings Mills (MD) mall. They sold 50% when things turned south, and that’s their right. They’re business people. I know some Norwalkers, as evidenced by their pleas to B&N to stay in town can not separate their hopes and dreams from bottom line needs for profit, but do not expect this developer to have an ounce of compassion when they sell off the SONO mall. This writer will not be the least surprised.

  10. Michael McGuire

    Great article which supports all the reasons why 95/7 will work as proposed.

    As I’ve noted in earlier posts on this topic Malls, and all retail for that matter, go out of business for three main reasons. One- demographics shift resulting in a population base that can not support the existing retail in an area; Two – they get out positioned by newer retail development in other areas; and Three – they are outdated designs.

    Since none of these three reasons are issues here much of the naysayer’s argument is not credible nor supportable. The NYTimes article is a good read if and only if you read the whole thing. The takeaway is that malls in once thriving areas do go out of business. And even some malls in still thriving areas go out of business.

    I’m sure GGP is wise enough to select a tenant mix that is durable and well matched for the demographics of this area.

  11. Suzanne

    One- demographics shift resulting in a population base that can not support the existing retail in an area; Two – they get out positioned by newer retail development in other areas; and Three – they are outdated designs.

    Norwalk has been unable to support existing retail either in SoNo or downtown. It has not been demonstrable that new condo (nor old) developments have helped that situation. What demographic shift has occurred in Norwalk to support a mall with redundant retail?

    This will be the new retail in the area thus affecting existing Malls that are already limping – you have said you “feel sorry” (paraphrase) for the future of both Stamford and Trumbull Mall with this development. How is it progress for Norwalk to “win” the retail game in lieu of marketplace’s in other communities?

    Why is retail such as this even considered profitable to Norwalk? Once again, it must be said, jobs that most Norwalk residents cannot afford, sales taxes that are going to the state and deferred property taxes. A bit over 2 million to Norwalk does not “stuffing the coffers” make (especially when one considers the cost of accommodating this monolith in the first place. High on the list? Traffic.)

    This enclosed Mall design is the most outdated of them all and the one type that is failing the most. Countless examples have been provided. Add to the NYT, CNN, Bloomberg, Harper’s and other creditable, well-researched articles that show Malls of this type are failing drastically across the country.

    The “life-cycle” of this development has been expressed as between 15 and 25 years (depending upon who is commenting on the subject.) This is an incredible disservice to future residents and taxpayers to be left with this glass barn to either destroy or re-purpose at huge cost.

    People against this Mall may not have your credentials, Mr. McGuire, but they do know how to read multiple sources regarding the failure of the Mall concept. They also have common sense.

    Internet sales went to 12% this past holiday season exceeding expectations. (The Bloomberg graph on this phenomena provided in a previous comment shows the line moving steadily up while retail feels the pinch.) Why would I go to the Gap at this Mall when I can order online and get what I want at my doorstep, often with free shipping? A few brown or white and orange trucks on the road rather than the traffic potentially created by this development is far better for the environment and quality of life as well.

    GGP looks rosy because, in reorganizing after their bankruptcy, they offloaded the Malls with low profitability. Thus, their occupancy and profitability looks great, for investors and their bottom line.

    However, nothing will be mentioned in the quarterly reports about the quality of life nor the specifics of a unique community such as Norwalk. Their PR in this regard is not to be believed. I don’t defer their right to make money, but I do object to GGP making money on the backs of the diverse community that is Norwalk.

  12. Haley

    Re: Mr. McGuire and “I’m sure GGP is wise enough to select a tenant mix that is durable and well matched for the demographics of this area.”
    Something tells me we should not trust the future of our city to wise old Daddy-Knows-Best GGP. All those failing malls (and we would be building the first new one in this country since 2006) had financial geniuses in charge of them, too.

  13. Tim D

    As a property owner and resident of South Norwalk I’ve heard people describe SONO as unsafe (kindly stated). Once, a colleague from New Canaan called it a “war zone” when he took his kids to a basketball game. If that’s the perception how will the mall overcome that? Why didn’t “The Sono Marketplace” and it’s so called boutique concept ever make it?

    Why not just leave it as open space?

    Personally – I despise malls and would probably never step a foot into it.

  14. Debora

    Reason # 4: Retail purveyors increasingly shifting to “on-demand” services, resulting in mind-numbingly similar and limited offerings that nobody wants or needs.

    I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in a retail store in the last five years to get a specific item, only to be told the store doesn’t carry it, but will be happy to help you order it online for pickup in the store.

    Borders went out of business doing this…they only wanted to stock the fastest moving entertainment titles, creating a self-referential death spiral. Sears is circling the drain as well…they will actually sit you down at a kiosk to order items in their store, after advertising them as in-store items.

  15. Michael McGuire

    @Suzanne – retail is very profitable in Norwalk, we have historically high rents on CT and Westport Ave. Certainly enough to support new development. SoNo is doing OK and Downtown is a product of poor planning. But that should change soon.

    Sorry you don’t feel 2,100 jobs for young and old is good enough for Norwalk.

  16. WOW just WOW

    Michael McGuire
    You are 100 percent correct.
    Also I would add that retail jobs actually pay pretty well for management . Most retail managers are in the 6 figures. The lower paying jobs are also good for those that want to build a career. I find it comical how some find fault with EVERY development. The thing to keep in mind is that these individuals post opinion as if it is fact.

    I know I and most in Norwalk cannot wait for opening day.

  17. anon

    Build it. It will be an asset and a draw.

  18. Wineshine

    Michael McGuire, your first line, “Great article which supports all the reasons why 95/7 will work as proposed” is where you lost me. Personally, I can’t see how anyone can read that article, conclude, “Yep, that’s it!! The best chance for success is to put an enclosed mall there”, and expect to be taken seriously.

    You state three reasons why malls die, and then you say that none of them apply to this one, but you don’t say why. I’m so weary of hearing from people who make it sound like somehow Norwalk is a magical special place where if we all want it enough, it will happen. I’m as optimistic as the next person, but I also have great respect for odds and probabilities.

    And sorry to ramble, but Wow asks if 2100 jobs for Norwalk isn’t good enough. What would make anyone think that with the amount of workers within 20-25 miles of the proposed site, that all hires, or even half of them would come from Norwalk?

  19. Kevin Di Mauro

    I have been turned off by the idea of having two “department stores” in the plan, but imagine having a department store for exotic automobiles.

    Imagine a department store for automobiles such as Ferrari, Aston Marin, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Maserati etc. It would be an appropriate replacement for Maritime Motors.

  20. Suzanne

    Mr. McGuire, You referred to demographic changes that would make Norwalk an ideal retail destination. With that, I do not know where you are getting your data.

    Are you saying Home Depot and Walmart are a good indicator for the type of shopping that would be appropriate and transfer over to this Mall as it is imagined? That square foot rates at big box stores are comparable?

    That big bubble saying “Retail Void” in another article about the “SoNo Mall” (like saying the driving range is a “learning center”) clearly shows downtown and SoNo as the end points of shopping central.

    As you have admitted yourself, there is no “there there” when it comes to Downtown nor is SoNo doing all that well. Why not focus on making what exists successful?

    I agree one hundred percent with Wineshine’s analysis of those great jobs guaranteed by GGP to light up the lives of so many here in Norwalk: oh, I guess what Wineshine is saying is, no one in Norwalk will be able to afford the jobs (on average) GGP is offering.

    I don’t get it: GGP is into Mall real estate. That is what they do. They keep or invest in the Malls that have a good occupancy rate and get rid of the ones that don’t. How is this a good plan for Norwalk?

    Why does the taxpayer have to believe that all of these “experts” (from GGP) who continue to be optimistic about the big money they are going to make on this Mall do not see, or do, an out is always an option, what many in Norwalk are seeing, the media is seeing nationwide, the retail industry, especially large department store chains as they plummet and the increase in Internet sales expanding show, all factors that make this Mall obsolete before it is even built?

    Ultimately, GGP does not have to care about that. They just need to show success for their bottom line. This is real estate with no conscious about the full scope of the community in which they are building. They can make whatever sum they choose and run (which is what they do.)

    While I know you are an expert, I have to go with the data from big finance (and I am not talking about the current data from the S&P), as well as nationwide publications that do their homework and have no buy in into the outcome of this poorly planned and placed Mall.

    I appreciate good development and support it but this isn’t it.

  21. Michael McGuire

    @Wineshine – good points you bring up and I’ll try to answer them.

    I read an article like this and completely agree with it because it reflects the natural life cycle of a retail property. The lifecycle includes the three issues of why malls die. Is pretty clear that 95/7 wont have those mall killing issues in the foreseeable future as I’ll explain.

    The first issue (and most important issue) that kills malls is changing demographics. Granted the CT economy is riddled with negatives and anti-business bias but since we are part of the NY metro we are pretty well set demographically. When you see NYC falling behind Charlotte, or Atlanta, or Chicago etc. in most categories it would be time to unload your NY metro area mall holdings. But until then NYC should still be a safe bet.

    Also, changing demographics is not just isolated to lower incomes. Average income can remain the same but over building can create a situation where the demographics can’t support more retail. Its a given in our industry that we have to mush retail in the wrong locations nationally. Our shift from a manufacturing based economy to an information based economy really did a number on the mid-west and rust belt areas. Ironically, the limited supply of land has created a deficit of retail in our area.

    The second issue, being out positioned, is very unlikely since the location at the intersection of Rt 7 and I-95 could not be better for retail development. Couple that with the fact that every other downtown, and commercial corridor on the I-95 corridor has been largely developed. The opportunity to out-position 95/7 with a better retail project is virtually non-existent.

    Third, poor design, not really an issue here as long as we don’t gum it up tacky retro stuff. Out dated design means outdated as in really old, built 40 years ago etc. we have some of those around as noted on the list in CT in the article by Rod.

    I’ve been doing commercial real estate work for decades so I see this article from both sides. And yes, I agree with most of what is outlined in the article. Which is why I encourage a complete reading. Essentially, for 95/7 as proposed to fail it would have to be by the first or second issue – which is not even remotely likely. But its why all the others have failed.

    Finally, I’m all for jobs in Norwalk regardless of where people come from. The argument that is should be Norwalk centric for Norwalk Citizens is like saying Merritt 7 office park should be first and foremost for Norwalk Business’s. That would keep us small. Frankly I don’t get the us vs. them attitude that some in Norwalk seen to feel toward the surrounding communities.

    Hope that answers it, if not let me know and I’ll taken another cut at it.

  22. Michael McGuire

    @ Suzanne – show me one national publication, or opinion from a national organization of real estate professionals that specifically states that this 95/7 project, as proposed, is a bad idea.

  23. Suzanne

    Mr. McGuire, You are right. I should have said a Mall like 95/7 as is planned is a bad idea. There are plenty of examples of this in national publications previously cited. It is really not my job as a poster to this site to read these examples and links for you.

    We each have a bias: mine is based on my previous statements, yours on the trends you like to cite but have not as yet been realized. I, as a taxpayer of the City of Norwalk, do not want to take that risk with this poor development.

    Pouring more retail upon failed retail is just pouring on more not necessarily better. If this is so good for Norwalk financially and as a contribution to a thoughtful, healthy community, then give me that data. From my perspective, what Norwalk is giving to GGP for this dubious result is just not worth it.

  24. Michael McGuire

    @ Suzanne – the following is why you should take that risk as a Norwalk Taxpayer.

    I was asked by the Mayor to be part of an economic development committee in late 2014. Our group detailed some specifics issues that Norwalk should do and that could be done for relatively low cost. Chief among these was approving 95/7. We know that this anchor would be a draw sufficient enough to attract quality retailers to the Wall/West/Main Corridor.

    To demonstrate the economic vitality that could be generated we looked at the downtown of Westport, Fairfield, Darien, and New Canaan vs. the Wall Street area of Norwalk. They are all downtown commercial environments.

    The chart which outlines the following analysis would unfortunately note paste here from Excel. However, what it showed was the average metrics of mixed use downtown commercial property sales in each downtown from 2010 to the present. For instance the average number of sales in each local was 17 sales per downtown. Downtown Norwalk had 2.

    The average sale price per square foot for the competitive downtowns was $518/SF. In downtown Norwalk our best is $150/SF.

    We could reasonably raise our average price by 50% to $225/SF, certainly achievable given the price of retail rents in Norwalk for Westport Ave and CT Ave, and well below the competitive set (therefor conservative). The corresponding increase in Tax revenue for just the Wall Street area alone(approximately 1.3 million square feet of building area) would net the city $1,735,000 per year in increased tax revenue based on today’s mil rate.

    This is what I’m talking about – economic vitality at least on par with were values should be. $225/SF is well below the norm for values in downtowns along the I-95 corridor. Yet we are well below that.

    I’ve been promoting the Wall Street area for a decade now and learned a lot in that time frame. No decent retailer wants to be an “urban pioneer” in the Wall Street area because is looks so bad and has been so poorly planned. Yet its a diamond in the rough with everything in place to be an area that could achieve well in excess of $300/SF if, and only if we can get it moving. To do that something big has to happen so that decent retailers know that regardless of poor municipal planning they are generally assured of making a decent return on their investment. 95/7 is all they need to hear to overcome there concerns about Norwalk.

    Now take the above value increase and extrapolate that across the entire SoNo to Wall area and your talking really big numbers of increased revenue to the City. By the way, this does not even account for 95/7 revenues nor for business taxes either. Does it happen overnight? No. It will take some time and revised planning to attract business, not repel business which has been the norm for years.

    So if you’re wondering why I believe this works you have the cliff notes version as to why outlined above. This is basic urban planning 101.

    To not do the 95/7 development and forego the ancillary benefits as outlined above is akin to shouting out to the business community that Norwalk is to (fill in your own adjective) to understand basic economics. And as such should remain as the “hole in the donut”.

    This is also why I, Mike Mushak and others are so adamant about the need for professional planning on staff. This is also why Duleep is such a drain to the community. The combination is costing you, me and every other Norwalk taxpayer so much in lost revenues and lost opportunity.

    By the way, the retail in the Stamford Norwalk MSA is grossly in need of a major retail center in lower Fairfield County. Just ask any regular shopper – they are so tired of going to Danbury or White Plains for decent shopping. We are a rare area nationally that is under-retailed.

  25. Oldtimer

    There are two assumptions the supporters of the 95/7 mall plan keep talking about, but never explain. One is 2100 jobs. 2100 is a lot of full time jobs, if, of course, they are talking about full time. The other is an anchor retail tenant that will attract enough traffic (customers) to make this mall work. I would be a lot more comfortable if such a tenant had been identified and made some commitment. Without such an anchor, 95/7 would be just another mall with a dubious future. Does anybody know what it takes to attract a good anchor tenant ? How many square feet of retail space ? How many square feet of attractive public space ?

  26. Wineshine

    @ Michael McGuire- Thanks for your response. Sincerely, I find it quite educational to benefit from your decades of experience. Here’s where we differ though: In your world, a mall (retail development) is the answer. End of story. It’s just a question of “where”. Am I right so far? I mean, it’s not like you’re going to be appointed to a commission and recommend that a bird sanctuary is the best use for the land, right? And to you, the measure of success is to construct, and lease at market or above rates. That’s how you get other municipalities to sign on. How am I doing? I have a friend who’s a mortgage broker, specializing in strip mall financing. His lot in life is the get the deal. The deal could be in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Portland or Mongolia. He doesn’t care. He just wants to get the deal. That’s his nature and that’s his job.

    My point, and others here also, is that the mall concept is not overly healthy. The NYT article evidences this. You speak of retail lifecycle, but what is the lifespan of a mall? 10 years, 15 years, 25 years? The Owings Mills mall was redeveloped less than 20 years ago, and they are among the “dead”. That property is clearly not attracting the stores needed to thrive. Carousel in Syracuse had to reinvent and it’s not looking good. Saks left Stamford Town Center a few years ago, as did other high end retail, and that’s about as geographically desirable as it can get.

    Free standing bricks and mortar can change after every lease. Who cares? But malls are destinations. Will the concept revive? Who knows? E-tailing gets stronger every day, and the generations who have resisted are slowly dying off.

    On the local level here in Norwalk, the demographics are shifting dramatically, and not toward the high end. That’s undisputable. You mention Wall St. rents at $150/sf, but also that you feel they can rise to $225. This is not reality. I trust you’ve been to Wall St lately? If you haven’t just read the police blotter in the Hour for an update on what goes on. Tim D stated in another thread that people from Westport, New Canaan, Darien hear the words South Norwalk, and run the other way. He’s right. When we moved to Norwalk in 1985, a realtor extolled the prospects of Washington Street, and what it would become. That was almost 30 years ago, and because of outlandish rental rates, we’ve seen a steady stream of eateries come and go. They can’t sustain at those rates, but somehow you feel that Wall Street will become the Rodeo Drive of the East. Even Pasta Nostra is leaving town after decades on Washington Street.

    As for mall shoppers spilling out to West and Wall? Please cite one example of a suburban mall where that happens. I’ve been to Stamford TC over the years. Get off 95, pull into the lot, shop, get out, get back on 95. How will this be different?

    We’re speaking the same language. You mentioned that every other intersection, and downtown area on the 95 corridor has been developed and that means 95/7 won’t be out-positioned. So you’re playing the odds also, and my bet is that the retail pie is only so big, and the best chance for success in cannibalizing STC, and Danbury, and that’s not progress.

  27. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    @Haley

    Reviewing all these notes, I came across this from you:

    January 5, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Confidential to Rod Lopez-Fabrega :
    “the membership nonsense” helps pay the salaries of reporters and editors. NoN needs money to operate, too.

    _______________________________

    I don’t know how you read that in my note. I am an enthusiastic supporter of NON and, in fact, think the possibility that they may not continue due to insufficient monetary support from its readers would be a major catastrophe for Norwalk and environs as NON is the only publication around these parts that tells it like it is with its exceptionally good journalism.

  28. Michael McGuire

    @Wineshine – I work strictly off the numbers and outlook for each market segment. As I’ve said in previous posts, if the analysis showed the highest and best use as a chicken coop than I’d be advocating for that.

    The highest and best use for this site is as proposed – an intensive retail development. Nothing else even comes close at this point. No comment on the hotel as I did not look at that component.

    Those figures regarding downtown sales were sales price per square foot, not rent.

  29. Wineshine

    An even more startling realization: A retail expert states that as many as half of the nations malls will fail in the next 15-20 years.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/economy/the-shopping-mall-crisis-is-getting-more-ominous/ar-BBhAV6I

  30. Kevin Di Mauro

    @M.McGuire – 01/06/15. 2:58 pm

    Seriously?

    Would you actually advocate for a “chicken coop” if the NUMBERS said it was the highest and best use for the property?

  31. Piberman

    Has anyone come across a detailed analysis prepared by the developers that includes demographics analysis, traffic generation, required City infrastructure improvements, additional City services required, time horizon of expected City tax revenues, store rentals, property valuation changes in neighboring areas, effects on local businesses, etc. ? Without these basics available to the public it’s challenging to understand the costs and benefits to the City.
    One would hope that the mall developers would encourage a knowledgeable discussion by City residents. On what basis did former Mayor Moccia decide to support the mall ? Could he share the info with us ? With Mayor Rilling too ? Or do we just believe the “pitchman” ? Long term residents remember not much discussion took place with the introduction of Big Box. Let’s encourage our leaders to do better this time around. A sound project should “earn” the support of the community on its merits. Not the back door politics of days padt.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @ PiBerman

      Many of the things you request will be done if and when the LDA change request is approved. We won’t speculate on the former mayor’s motivations, but the current mayor spoke against it before and after the election, but pointed out he has no say unless breaking a tie vote in the Council. Since then, he has maintained, as we have reported, that he does not think a mall is the best thing for the property, but if we are to wind up with a mall, this proposal seems to be pretty good.

  32. Nancy

    @wineshine – I believe McGuire was referring to price per square foot, not rent per square foot, which would be reasonable in a healthy market.

  33. Suzanne

    You analyzed surrounding area “mixed use” downtowns to determine how poorly Norwalk’s downtown is doing. You aspire to half the value of those areas per square foot through development of the Wall Street area by building out 95/7 with a “big thing”, the Mall, to provide this increase. This, I imagine, is based on the idea of “spill over.” If a customer goes to buy at the Mall they will then proceed, for whatever reason, to go to Wall Street or SoNo to make the new businesses there thrive.

    Why is there the assumption that customers will make that journey? Common sense would indicate that consumers use this completely enclosed Mall, a design failing all over the country, park, shop and leave. What would be their inducement to then shop again over at Wall Street or SoNo?

    Why isn’t all of this energy and time being used to improve the “diamond in the rough” that is Wall Street? Why would it take a pioneer to occupy a building there if concentration on blight removal and improving inherent real estate values and promotion of the area using an active and effective marketing plan?

    I read of plenty of people who pass through Wall Street, your customer base, and do not stop. There is not a concentration of useful shopping or service opportunities there. And, yet, there are people passing by all of the time looking for them.

    Check out yet another researched, no buy in just reporting article from the Washington Post in the following thread to this one. Guess what the most successful model for Malls is? Those that emulate Main Streets. GGP has these in their portfolio and the profitability of this type of Mall across the country is indisputable (if a Mall has to be considered at all.)

    Why this failing architectural style? Why this type of Mall now? The benefits have not been proven, the data is not in as outlined by PiBerman above.

    While I appreciate all of your data and your process (and I really do appreciate these explanations that sort of nail down the analytical process), it does not explain the behavior of consumers who are, it must be said again, increasingly using the Internet, shopping at similar or the same stores in local towns, and, after just a relatively few years, flying to these other alternatives and causing the life cycle of this type of development to be short.

    This is a created “retail need” for an “under retailed” area. It is destined to have short term gains and long term failure. It is not what Norwalk needs nor will it benefit the entire community in its retail style nor hotel.

  34. Wineshine

    Thanks Nancy. Michael did clarify that.

  35. Michael McGuire

    @ Kevin Di Mauro – yes. I was being somewhat facetious but whatever creates the highest and best use I would advocate for.

    @ Suzanne – I agree with a lot of what you are saying regarding Wall Street. I’ve been asking the same questions, for a long long time. Why does the City allow Duleeps blight, why the retail business killing parking policy, why the continued miss-steps around POKO, why does SONO get all the RDA attention. Thank God this mayor and the CC leadership is finally taking notice.

    But like in life, actions speak louder than words. So until the market sees action from the City (read revised NPA policies, a blight ordinance with sting, and Economic Development plan and policy for Wall Street, etc) the Duleeps of the City will rule the day. Mushak, King and others are right – it all comes down to planning (or lack thereof).

    @ Wineshine – I agree as well that lots of malls will die in the next 15-20 years. Seems reasonable since a large number of the malls will be over 50 years old with the oldest approaching 80 years old. But you have to ask yourselves will the 3 key mall killing issues be prevalent here? You’re throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    As for your request of an example to show positive effect on the local area around a new mall I only need to jump over the White Plains mall which spurred all types of development and redevelopment the few blocks around it. I grew up in White Plains so I’ve watched it happen. Looking forward to watching it happen here!

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