Orange County Developers Eye Dying Malls for Housing, Mixed-Use

Despite their promi­nent roles in recent sci-fi thriller series, indoor around the coun­try are hem­or­rhag­ing cus­tomers and ten­ants, with many becom­ing vacant husks sur­round­ed by seas of .

Accord­ing to a Los Times sto­ry by Han­nah Fry, some of Orange Coun­ty’s now-unoc­cu­pied clas­sic malls may soon be revived as . “In a region where there is lit­tle unde­vel­oped land and neigh­bors are like­ly to push back at new hous­ing, some see declin­ing malls as ide­al places to build.”

Fry gives a brief of the mal­l’s role as an Amer­i­can cul­tur­al insti­tu­tion in the sec­ond half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry (for more on that, read Alexan­dra Lange’s Meet Me by the Foun­tain: An Inside His­to­ry of the Mall, one of Plan­e­ti­zen’s Top Urban Plan­ning Books of 2022). But now, malls offer some of the best options for devel­opable land in dense fac­ing a hous­ing short­age. The Orange Coun­ty city of West­min­ster approved a plan to rede­vel­op the West­min­ster Mall into a mixed-use prop­er­ty with as many as 3,000 res­i­den­tial units, hun­dreds of hotel rooms, 600,000 square feet of retail, and 17 acres of green space.

“Experts say that new laws, along with increased pres­sure from the state to build more homes, have con­vinced some local offi­cials who might have been resis­tant to rezon­ing com­mer­cial prop­er­ties in the past,” Fry explains. L.A.-area devel­op­ers are count­ing on “a mod­ern type of dweller — one who would rather walk to restau­rants and oth­er ameni­ties than in a sin­gle-fam­i­ly home with a yard.”

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