Edward McMahon does the predictions in Urban Land on  The Future of the Strip.  On one hand, the Big Box will move to the city:

In 2010, Target announced plans to remodel the century-old Carson Pirie Scott department store in Chicago. This landmark building, designed by architect Louis Sullivan, will be just one of many new, so-called big-box retailers planned for urban neighborhoods.

Similarly, in late 2010 Wal-Mart announced plans for its first-ever stores in Washington, D.C. To make the four new stores fit into an urban environment, the company has agreed to consider an array of new layouts, designs, and parking arrangements.

And on the other, the suburban strip and mall will urbanize:

We used to have three standardized formats: the strip, the enclosed mall, and the power center. Now, all of these things are coming together in one place, in a hybrid format.

According to commercial analysts, this means we are going to see a far greater mix of tenants than in the past. No longer will there be a Wal-Mart on one side of the street and a mall on the other. In the future, the Wal-Mart and the Costco will be in the same mall as Nordstrom and Macy’s. Also, many malls will more closely resemble old-fashioned main streets. Already, seven of the 13 regional malls in the Denver metropolitan area—like Belmar in Lakewood, Colorado—have been turned into mixed-use town centers.

UPDATE: This from The Economist, likely quoting the same Mr. McMahon above:

What of the future (of the strip mall)? Mr McMahon recently observed two Barnes & Noble outlets close to each other in Maryland. The one in a strip mall did less well than the one with no dedicated parking, but near a cycle path and the train. It is surrounded by other shops and restaurants in a sort of town centre, or, as Brandon Palanker of Renaissance Downtowns, a developer, describes it, ‘a boutique city’. That may be the way ahead.


  1. You don’t have to look so far afield.
    Town & Country Plaza in Victoria (a classic strip mall from the 60s) is bing redeveloped into a lifestyle centre with a 2-storey Wal-Mart (together Best Buy, Shoppers Drug Mart, Future Shop and other retail and office space) and underground parking.



    Incidentally, Morguard Investments, the owner, also owns two properties along the proposed Evergreen Line – Burquitlam Plaza and Coquitlam Centre.

  2. Then there’s also Arbutus Village in Vancouver, which is also being redeveloped (but not likely on such a commercial basis, since it’s in an obscure location for big box retailers) – but the toney West Side neighbourhood would rather have the easy access to surface parking than the more intensive use proposed in the form of a town square, streetfront retail, condos and underground parking.

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