Mr. Hull said that he anticipated making malls more “community-based” in smaller markets, with local and regional businesses. “It’s going to be cooking classes, boutiques, internet businesses that want a physical presence, health care, food choices,” he said.
In Cupertino, Calif., where Apple has its headquarters, the fate of the shuttered Vallco Shopping Mall has become a contentious issue, with impassioned public debates around replacing it with affordable housing, new entertainment and retail options or office space.
In the meantime, it is a partially demolished eyesore, according to Rod Sinks, a member of the Cupertino City Council. “We have a chain-link fence around the whole thing,” he said.
In Los Angeles, the former Westside Pavilion mall, once featured in the movie “Clueless” and Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” music video, is turning into office space for Google. Terri Tippit, the 74-year-old chairwoman of the local Westside neighborhood council, lamented the loss of the space and said it “reflected the way our society is changing and going.”
Still, some investors have bought midtier malls in recent years and have already been working on how to repurpose and change spaces — even “de-malling” malls, by flipping store entrances so that they face the street.
“We didn’t buy malls since 2014 thinking that J.C. Penney or Sears or Bon-Ton were going to be in business forever and operate department stores, and if you were, then shame on you,” said Ami Ziff, director of national retail at Time Equities, a real estate firm whose investments include eight enclosed malls. “Is there going to be more distress, vacancy and bankruptcy? Yes. Hopefully, you know what you’re doing so you can pick up the pieces to refill that space.”
Contact Sapna Maheshwari at [email protected]