I was shocked to learn — while researching a story for a Georgia magazine — that Gwinnett Place Mall in suburban Atlanta is considered old. Sheesh, during my days as a TV reporter, I reported on Gwinnett Place when it was still rising up from the cow pasture in which it was built. How´d it get to be old?
The fact is that two much newer malls now serve that area of north Atlanta, and the area around the old Gwinnett Place is the target of a push for revitalization. Time flies.
The mall saturation of this one area in metropolitan Atlanta seems to be a microcosm of "malldom" across the country. As reported yesterday in Retail Strategies, U.S. mall development finally has slowed.
A report written by Mike Tubridy of the International Council of Shopping Centers shows that the three-year period from 2004 to 2006 will yield "significantly fewer" new mall projects and "significantly less" new mall gross leasable area than the preceding three-year period.
Of the 10 upcoming large center openings scheduled when Tubridy wrote his report, five were being developed in the South, three in the West and one each in both the Northeast and Midwest.
Of the regional/super-regional centers scheduled to open during the three-year period, one is Kendall Town Center in Miami, Fla., set for a November opening. That´s an interesting development since South Florida is pretty well "mallified" already.
Just up the road from Miami, in Fort Lauderdale, Jaclyn Giovis reports in today´s South Florida sun-sentinel.com that Fort Lauderdale´s Galleria Mall is "continuing its glamourous comeback mission" with plans to add a P.F. Chang´s China Bistro restaurant, a new Macy´s department store and a "host of luxury stores." The Sun-Sentinel reporter also wrote that several other malls in the area are spiffing up.
While fewer new malls are springing up in the United States and while older centers here work to revitalize, the status of malls in the Arab world today is starkly different.
K.S. Ramkumar reported on the emergence of "gigamalls" in a March story in the Arab News. These malls, Ramkumar wrote, "will be equipped with elevators, escalators and "travelators´ (wide, stepless escalators that are magnetized to hold shopping carts in place on the incline) to ease the flow of shoppers through the different levels."
The gigamalls, Ramkumar reported, will include international food courts, exclusive children´s areas for recreation and entertainment and "even a cinema or a theater," the latter, of course, long ubiquitous in U.S. malls.
Apparently there already are a lot of malls in that part of the world, but that fact didn´t stop Mohammad I.B. Alawi of United Properties Company (UPC) from telling Ramkumar that there aren´t enough malls there.
UPC, along with joint venture partners, has planned several major projects in eight Saudi Arabian cities in three years, Ramkumar reported.
Alawi told the Arab News that Saudi Arabia´s total retail space is 60-percent below the needs of its consumers. After stating that startling number, the developer went on to tell the reporter that rising land prices will cause future shopping malls to be built in "sky-rise" buildings. "Basement shopping," Alawi told the Arab News, "is not preferred by women and so the malls have to go upward."
As we keep hearing, it´s a Global Economy, which leads me to wonder if we´ll be seeing sky-rise malls in the United States anytime soon. To repeat what I said earlier, "Sheesh!"