Imagine driving into an arboretum, walking through a botanical garden and celebrating the slow motions of pupils in a Tai Chi class. You walk past a farmers market and make a mental note to pick up some locally grown peaches in your return. Your short walk brings you to a building, and after a quick elevator ride you emerge in the calm of a beautiful living room area and check in for your doctor’s appointment. Then, an escalator to the first floor brings you to a laboratory where your yearly bloodwork is done. When the technician completes the process, you go toward a broad door that utilized to welcome shoppers into a Macy’s fragrance department. However, as you depart today , the new perspective of the mall–a convenient oasis of health and wellness providers, brands and services –stretches before you.
The adaptive reuse transformation of a shopping mall into a health and health utopia might seem jarring.
The Faltering Theater
Consider the unfortunate forecast that one-third of America’s malls will close permanently by 2021, according to retail adviser Jan Kniffen, a weekly CNBC contributor and former senior executive at The May Department Stores. As the business has been fighting for a while, he initially expected these closures would not happen until 2030, but has since shifted his prediction after the pandemic hastened the brand migration into ecommerce. In addition, he said malls that do survive should brace for closures of at least 20 percent of the shops.
Another stake in the heart of mall culture is the forecast that more than 50 percent of those department stores anchoring America’s malls will close permanently at the end of next year, according to a report from Green Street Advisors. “The only certainty is that there’ll be much fewer department stores in the near future and malls will have to accommodate,” Green Street’s Vince Tibone, analyst, told CNBC. Only last week, The New York Times reported that mall owners have already spent countless repositioning themselves for a future devoid of department stores, a future just hastened from the pandemic. Enormous, strategic redevelopment efforts add up to a vital bid to remain relevant as changes in retailing practices and customer tastes have abandoned the traditional shopping mall version vulnerable.
The Precedent for Theater Redesign and Transformation
Malls are coveted spaces for flexible reuse since they’re generally located near highways and public transport facilities. The situation for effective transformation of the conventional retail mall was established within the last several years as facilities nationwide have been remodeled with the addition of flats, hotels, gyms, medical facilities and big-box shops. Brookfield Properties is now spending $149 million to redevelop the Stonestown Galleria near San Francisco State University with the inclusion of a Whole Foods, a medical care provider and a Sports Basement sporting goods shop. The present Target is going to be enlarged and the standalone Regal Cinemas will be relocated to within the mall.
A couple of malls have gained entertainment venues and become experiential destinations. Some malls, such as the Westside Pavilion in Los Angeles and the Highland Mall in Austin, Texas have been bought and completely rehabilitated for alternative applications. Westside Pavilion was bought by Google and has been turned into a 584,000-square-foot complicated that’s projected to be completed in 2022. Austin Community College bought Highland Theater in 2012 to make a new campus, and continued expanding and adding to their development following the close of the mall in 2015.
Mall owners seeking to change their tenant mix would be wise to think wellness. The concept was embraced sporadically here in the U.S., but it is actively working in Asia. SM Supermalls assembles centers with health zones integrated in the planning stage. Its SM Mall of Asia in Manila, among the greatest in the Philippines, includes chiropractic, dental, vision care and The Medical City Clinic–that delivers everything from prenatal care to X-rays to physical treatment. The mall also includes a hypermarket, in addition to many services for massage, skin care, grooming and fitness.
A report from Colliers International, a worldwide commercial real estate and investment management firm, titled”The Fountain of Wellness in Retail” discovered that health would drive foot traffic and spending as customers access providers and keep their shopping experience. Colliers cited a poll by GlobalData that discovered if malls offered more health services such as health spas, physicians, clinics, spas, etc., 75 percent of shoppers would stop by the mall more. Another 72% say they would spend more money in the mall and 61% say that they would see restaurants in the mall more.
To be prosperous, adaptive mall reuse plans need research to the regional demographics and market, of course. What can the area support? What companies or services are missing? What’s the financial profile of the encompassing demographic? Back in 2019, we wrote about how pop-up could enhance the viability of the American shopping mall. Now we feel compelled to provide a more all-encompassing vision.
Medallion Retail is located in the Flatiron District area of New York City, an area full of quirky boutique fitness studios and advanced, holistic health facilities. The broad view is that post-COVID, wellness and health will no longer be viewed as a luxury, but as a requirement. Pondering our own neighborhood got us thinking: Could the conventional American shopping mall be changed to a multifaceted, holistic destination for large-scale community health and health?
What we’re imagining is large-scale transformation. And once we say”multifaceted, holistic destination,” we mean a place for all health and health needs. We envision the big, anchor shop spaces as prime areas for recognized medical organizations. By way of instance, a space that has been a Neiman Marcus department store could become a place for electronic imaging and outpatient services such as dialysis, mammography, colonoscopy, CAT scans and MRIs. Adjacent to these spaces may be other conventional physicians, such as general practitioners, dermatologists and podiatrists.
We then envision complimenting these normal practitioners and services with providers of supportive care: sports medicine practitioners, physical and physiotherapists, nutritionists and massage therapists. Emotional health would be addressed too: psychiatry, psychology, social workers and group therapists could occupy smaller vacated retail spaces. We envision areas within mall halls becoming open waiting rooms with virtual check-ins and appointment alarms.
A holistic approach to wellness and health would also include professionals and solutions for Eastern medicine, Ayurveda (holistic medicine that promotes balance between mind and body ) and other methods of healing. These practices could blend into a rich range of retail sources for goods like essential oils, vegan product, sustainable and organic healthcare brands, and homeopathic remedies. Additionally, depending on the condition, such a centre could be great for a medical marijuana dispensary.
Past Medicine and Into Prevention
Our center for wellness and health would transcend medical therapies by including preventative actions. Mall owners might consider adding an indoor pool and track; a rock climbing facility; tennis courts; a fitness center; yoga, dance and barre studios; and spaces for martial arts. Having such a wide variety of activities in a single centralized location would also create a demand for activewear and footwear retailers, in addition to specialty shops, like a dancewear store.
Healthful dining spots which have vegan and vegetarian options along with conventional restaurants would round out the experience. Eateries could provide outdoor service to capitalize on the lush environment given by recently installed gardens. The food court may be a compendium of fast alternatives to junk food, such as shakes and smoothies, salads, coffee drinks and healthful snacks. And a large part of space could be reserved for a supermarket. This would hold particular appeal for people who would love to visit the gym or attend a dance class and come home with the weekly groceries in exactly the exact same trip. The supermarket could be adjacent to spaces that sponsor courses in nutritional cooking for many ages.
Some modern mall redesigns have transformed parts of their parking lots into amenities such as walking trails and spaces for events such as concerts or outside movies. Another wholesome addition could be a multi-day farmers market. This idea is already being put into play in areas like The Mall at Greece Ridge at Rochester, New York, in which a market runs every Thursday and Saturday from June through October. Shoppers can pick up local produce, flowers, pasta, pasta and more.
Change for Good
The dire predictions which were made about the fantastic American shopping mall, which nobody wants to live upon, have spurred us into dreaming of new applications for these immense spaces. Forward thinking and planning can convert today’s malls into community resources which make health and wellness centralized, attainable, convenient and enjoyable.
Any large space that is walked and used by so many clients trying to find a huge array of companies and services will require wayfinding and environmental signage, shop layout and design, shop signage and screen, and fixturing design. Medallion Retail’s design, production and manufacturing teams can help U.S. mall owners adapt and recreate their distances, shaping and informing the consumer journey from entry to exit by creating a space that is refreshingly simple to navigate.