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U.S. Suburbs As We Knew Them Are Dying

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It's happening to some malls here in the Hudson Valley too, First the anchor stores went out of business. At the Ulster Mall there were four anchor stores, two of them JCPenney, and Macy's went first, now Sears is tottering, leaving only Target, the cineplex is still a draw, of course.

A lot of it I think, has got to be online shopping taking a big bite out of business. There were a lot of empty storefronts in the mall but they covered them over now and it looks like you are walking down long hallways, and the malls and "big box" stores both of course originally decimated the old downtowns of the small communities. Even Toys R Us is going down. 

So instead of walking to the hardware store in town for a screw you had to hopefully check the hardware section of the supermarket for a bubble pack of more than you needed or had to hop in a car and drive the 15-20 miles to a Home Depot or a Loews. That got to be old when gas was approaching 4 dollars a gallon.

Now there seems to be some success with "dollar" type stores, under various names, they are like old style Five & Dimes, Woolworth's, basically "general Stores that carry a little bit of everything. They are popping up in places where some of the small surrounding communities have lost their downtown general store type retail.

But the old downtowns are gentrifying now, filling up with niche type specialty stores, cafes, health food places, international ethnic food delis. The old factories are being converted into condos and folks that are getting priced out of NYC are moving into these towns. The commuter rail down along the Hudson brings you into the city in less than a few hours and they leave every half hour. The town of Hudson, NY, is like the antique capital of the Hudson Valley, if you've seen "Odds Against Tomorrow" you've all seen Hudson, it filled in for Melton. Beacon, NY is another, the huge Dia:Beacon Art Foundation's collection of art from the 1960s to the present, is housed in a big former factory.

As Dylan said "the times they are a changin'." 

 

 

 

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Surely, malls aren't what they used to be.  But really the "'Burbs" are something other than just the locations of huge shopping malls.  Indeed, one of the LARGEST malls in the metro Detroit area was the EASTLAND mall, actually located INSIDE the Detroit city limits, and NOT in the suburbs.  And I guess it also has something to do with where these suburbs of focus are.

'Round HERE, "suburbs" were/are just another way of saying "white enclaves", as most suburban cities in this area were "white only" populations of mostly blue collar workers and other middle class denizens.   The "downriver" area of suburban Detroit, including the cities of my hometown LINCOLN PARK, neighboring ALLEN PARK, TAYLOR, SOUTHGATE, WYANDOTTE, TRENTON and a few others were long white "strongholds" for decades.  Only the"downriver" cities of ECORSE and RIVER ROUGE had any African-American people living within their borders.  But that all started to finally change about 25 years ago.

All a "suburb" really is would be ANY municipality surrounding any major "urban" metropolis.  And they're just changing,  and aren't really going away.

Sepiatone

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1 hour ago, hamradio said:

Future sci fi prophecy, rise of the super...uh I mean "Dredd" city.

mega-city-one-from-dredd-2012.jpg

 

China is leading the way.

Cozy.:(

00CHINAECON6-superJumbo.jpg

Lots of uncompleted empty buildings in China.  In some cases there are entire "Ghost Cities" - no internal structure whatsoever.  No floors, no walls, no rooms, etc.  Just big experiments in monolithic prefabrication in various stages of non-completion.  Some may never be completed.

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7 hours ago, darkblue said:

In March, Business Insider reported a series of stories on "The Death of Suburbia," declaring the end of the suburbs as we once knew them.

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/homeandproperty/these-photos-of-abandoned-malls-and-golf-courses-reveal-a-new-era-for-the-american-suburb/ss-AAu2Cm0?ocid=spartandhp

Maybe you've come across the pictures of the former Randall Park Mall near Cleveland.  That was at one time the world's largest mall.  Two hundred shops in the middle, unheard of amounts of open atrium space in the middle, five large anchor stores, over two million square feet of space on two floors, and a giant parking lot.  I used to go across town there once or twice a year many years ago to go shopping, but mostly to walk around and people-watch.  It was from the same era and similar in structure to the mall atrium used for the filming of  Logan's Run (1976).  It was one of those places that early on looked like it would be there forever.

Randall Park Mall was basically a mid-1970s combined "cultural sphere of influence" project and gentrification experiment gone horribly wrong.  The original owner (actually had ties with the mob at some point) intended to draw people away from the central downtown Cleveland area and build up a large "area of influence" just outside of the city.

 

After a few "unhappy" incidents and about five years, it gained a negative reputation and started to fall out of popularity.  It started with a shoe store manager found murdered out in the parking lot.  It continued to creep downhill for two or three decades until there were barely any tenants remaining.  Then in the early 2000s they boarded it up, shut off the power, and basically abandoned it in disrepair for about a decade (though they left open whatever was being used of the anchor stores).  The mall sat vacant for about ten years and then they razed most of that in the last few years and left a few of the former anchor stores standing as separate structures.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2903790/Inside-crumbling-Ohio-mall-biggest-WORLD-demolished.html

There is also a large hotel next door, originally part of that project, which is just sitting around rotting away. 

 

I've seen some weird things firsthand, but this is probably in the top ten.

I disagree though that the suburbs are going away.  There has been a move to centralize and try and bring more people downtown, but that has been failing.  There are just more smaller stores and shops opening up in the suburbs instead.  It seems large open spaces, where large amounts of helpless people are herded together, exposed and vulnerable to high-yield attacks, are getting to be a thing of the past.  The Las Vegas shootings notwithstanding.

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Not sure how many looked at all 51 slides. It's true that most were of malls, but the final 7 or 8 were of country clubs and golf courses, housing "changes" and a depreciating mcmansion.

Online shopping and 50% of the population being one paycheck away from devastation is adding up to a very different world than what was the norm in the 70's.

Is that good or bad? I don't know, but it feels sort of sad. 

But, then again, I'm getting old. I think it may always feel sort of sad when you get old.

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There's a certain amount of sadness to it all.  Not to sound too maudlin about it, but basically a good portion of our entertainment lives on as "borrowed time from the past" in the form of older movies that have been saved and preserved.  I do try and watch newer movies, but it is just not the same.

As for the golf courses, I have never really been a golfer, but there is an abandoned golf course about ten miles from me out towards the country.  Beautiful rolling hills and nice topographical features.  It has been overgrowing with trees in recent years.  Probably hasn't been used since the 1980s.  The groundskeeper house is a small cottage on the edge of the property.  Now that is just a normal residence.  The clubhouse is still there too, it is off on a side-street.  I saw it when I was taking a ride with a friend who was more familiar with it and pointed it out to me.  He says the older generations who used it most likely just passed on, and then there was nobody else interested.  Being out towards the country probably made it less accessible for all but the locals.

P.S. Since you mention online shopping, the former Randall Park Mall property is one of several plots of land under consideration to become another Amazon distribution hub.  Actually now it looks like they have made some sort of agreement.
http://realestate.cleveland.com/realestate-news/2017/08/amazon_commits_to_north_randal.html

Well I guess that helps drive your point home.  The largest online seller in the world is set to build on the ruins of what was once the world's largest indoor mall (for about a year or two anyway).

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8 hours ago, MovieCollectorOH said:

Maybe you've come across the pictures of the former Randall Park Mall near Cleveland...

...It continued to creep downhill for two or three decades until there were barely any tenants remaining.  Then in the early 2000s they boarded it up, shut off the power, and basically abandoned it in disrepair for about a decade...

So, in essence here MCOH, you're sayin' the idea to even build that mall there in an inland suburb of Cleveland was a "mistake NEAR the lake" instead of "ON" the lake, RIGHT?! ;)

(...sorry, couldn't resist)

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I find these pictures of abandoned malls, homes, etc. oddly fascinating.  Especially when signage remains intact.  There is a website called Abandoned America that has pictures of decrepit Pizza Huts and Dairy Queens and other businesses that have sat vacant for years.  It's amazing to me that some of these malls pictured in the slideshow you linked (and I looked at all 51 slides) closed only two years ago and have already fallen into such disarray.  I thought it was funny to see an old Montgomery Ward storefront in one of the first pictures.  I remember that store closing in my hometown (Salem, OR) when I was in elementary school back in the early 90s.  Now that store is a Burlington Coat Factory.  

I agree that there seems to be more of an emphasis on city life and there's less of a desire to live in the suburbs, unless you happen to live in some hot spot area in the country.  I live in the Western-most suburb of the Portland Metro Area.  I think it's called a "bedroom community."  Portland is in such high demand right now (mostly from people moving here from out of state) and real estate and rent prices are so insane that most people have to move to the suburbs.  The real estate in Portland is out of control thanks to people coming from places like California where the real estate prices are so high that Portland homes seem cheap.  People are getting into bidding wars and offering prices higher than the asking price.  Portland is experiencing an affordable housing crisis as people can't afford homes and the only apartments available are highly competitive or expensive.  It seems that developers only want to build tiny hoity toity condos in the trendy areas of town. 

Also, thanks to the huge influx of people moving here to work at Intel (which has at least 6-7 locations in Hillsboro), Nike in Beaverton, and all the other tech companies setting up in Hillsboro, the West side is almost as expensive as Portland proper.  As people are priced out of each suburb, they're moving further West, East, etc.  People are even being priced out of the suburbs.   

Basically, if you want to live in Portland and you're not Mr. Moneybags, you either have to pay an exorbitant amount for a tiny studio, live in the dangerous part of town, live in the suburbs, or consider Portland a pipe dream and live in a less desirable part of Oregon, like Eastern Oregon.  Even Southern and Central Oregon, which used to be sparsely populated, are gaining in popularity.  

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38 minutes ago, Dargo said:

So, in essence here MCOH, you're sayin' the idea to even build that mall there in a more inland suburb of Cleveland was a "mistake NEAR the lake" instead of "ON" the lake, RIGHT?! ;)

(...sorry, couldn't resist)

Maybe you've come across this South Park episode.  There is a gentrification project around the poorest kid's house in town (Kenny).  All these extravagances are centered around this tiny little green house, just to use it as an aesthetic.  In fact it is a nuisance for the family (I guess that little part is a divergence).

 

Then there is another big new distraction (a Whole Foods), in another part of the same town.  Everyone leaves and promptly forgets about the big building project and it turns to mush.  Not sure there is a moral to this correlation, as it just kind of popped into my head.

 

But not to worry.  That is only just a cartoon.

We actually HAVE a South Park Mall in our area, and it is doing just fine.
https://www.shoppingsouthparkmall.com/

Mall Map
https://www.shoppingsouthparkmall.com/sites/shoppingsouthparkmall.com/files/MAP.pdf

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22 hours ago, MovieCollectorOH said:

Lots of uncompleted empty buildings in China.  In some cases there are entire "Ghost Cities" - no internal structure whatsoever.  No floors, no walls, no rooms, etc.  Just big experiments in monolithic prefabrication in various stages of non-completion.  Some may never be completed.

I remember back in the '90's while visiting Chicago for a photography seminar/workshop the head of the company I did wedding photography said something about, "Building strip malls seems to be the major source of employment here lately.  They regularly build them in spite of not having most of the spaces leased."

We have a few like that 'round my "neck" too.  One in particular----while under construction on the site of an old BIG BOY restaurant, we all patiently waited to see what was going up there, and once completed 10 years ago it still sits empty.

Sepiatone

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14 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I agree that there seems to be more of an emphasis on city life and there's less of a desire to live in the suburbs, unless you happen to live in some hot spot area in the country.  I live in the Western-most suburb of the Portland Metro Area.  I think it's called a "bedroom community."  Portland is in such high demand right now (mostly from people moving here from out of state) and real estate and rent prices are so insane that most people have to move to the suburbs.  The real estate in Portland is out of control thanks to people coming from places like California where the real estate prices are so high that Portland homes seem cheap.  People are getting into bidding wars and offering prices higher than the asking price.  Portland is experiencing an affordable housing crisis as people can't afford homes and the only apartments available are highly competitive or expensive.  It seems that developers only want to build tiny hoity toity condos in the trendy areas of town. 

Also, thanks to the huge influx of people moving here to work at Intel (which has at least 6-7 locations in Hillsboro), Nike in Beaverton, and all the other tech companies setting up in Hillsboro, the West side is almost as expensive as Portland proper.  As people are priced out of each suburb, they're moving further West, East, etc.  People are even being priced out of the suburbs.   

Some Canadian cities have experienced steep increases in the price of homes due to foreign ownership. Apparently China is big in that - Chinese people purchase homes in Canada and rather than rent them out for what they can get, they'd rather leave them empty - demanding big rent or nothing.

Ontario has recently added a surtax on foreigners purchasing houses in Ontario, following British Columbia's lead. Additionally, British Columbia is now slapping extra taxes on any home that sits vacant for longer than 6 months of a year.

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1 hour ago, Sepiatone said:

I remember back in the '90's while visiting Chicago for a photography seminar/workshop the head of the company I did wedding photography said something about, "Building strip malls seems to be the major source of employment here lately.  They regularly build them in spite of not having most of the spaces leased."

We have a few like that 'round my "neck" too.  One in particular----while under construction on the site of an old BIG BOY restaurant, we all patiently waited to see what was going up there, and once completed 10 years ago it still sits empty.

Sepiatone

In the past when we built things, it was so that we could use them, there was a sense of satisfaction in completion.  Now it appears what you are seeing is people making an "investment", and then abandoning it through the lens of the "sunk cost fallacy" warnings of their financial advisors.  Abandoning ship or short-selling might benefit the short term investor, but is bad for long term investment and bad for the ecosystem.

What these Chinese empty cities look like to me reminds me more of our own military contractors.  Just complete and utter disregard for expenses (in particular the top executives of those companies - not your average employee).  Some speculate there might be a rhyme or reason to these ghost cities, I don't know that they understand how to conceptualize or plan ahead that far.  This is all so new to them, it seems they are just running as far as they can with things before their cash cow dries up.

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Not just them too.

Here in Wayne County, MI they're still trying to find something to do with the new uncompleted and "way over budget before completion" Wayne County jail building taking up "prime" real estate in the middle of Detroit.  There's talk of just tearing down what's already been built and starting over with something else.

Sepiatone

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5 hours ago, Dargo said:

I suppose you guys have heard the latest news about Bill Gates' plan to build what he's calling a "smart city" just west of Phoenix AZ...

http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/13/technology/future/bill-gates-smart-city-arizona/index.html

Yeah, I read something about that.  I wonder how that fits into his population reduction plan.  Maybe an Experimental Prototype Population Reduction Community Of Tomorrow (E-PoP-R-COT?).  They will have forced immunizations for sure.  Maybe South Park will cover it in an upcoming episode "Mr. Bates".

Judging from the Windows 10 playbook:  It sounds like a place that will be micromanaged to the smallest detail.  Nothing will be private - expect at least 17 different types of telemetry or ways to get monitored.  Changes to your living arrangements will be made behind your back, changes which are bound to disrupt things for you, your belongings may randomly disappear.  People will be lured into it with freebies, and said freebies will conveniently become line item additions to the regular costs of your living arrangements, which you will happily subscribe to or rent in the near future just to maintain status quo.

But you will still have all your Facebook friends and high-speed Internet.

Sounds like complete dog crap to me, but there are probably some people out there who deserve to live at a place like that.

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I didnt know that about the Randall Mall. I remember when it opened. It was THE mall. Older malls seem to be closing/dying. At least around where I live. Replaced by newer shopping areas farther out of town. Not closed in malls, but shopping areas now.

 

I thought the Randall Mall  had 3 floors?

 

They tried a downtown shopping mall where I live now several decades ago trying to lure shoppers downtown. It barely lasted a decade and was eventually razed (it was 3 floors). With the closing of the sole multifloor downtown anchor dept store soon after, there is nothing downtown now for shoppers. Truly pathetic. It's strictly a 9 to 5 business area now. People work there and go home and its dead. (except for a few performing arts theaters).

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21 hours ago, Hibi said:

I didnt know that about the Randall Mall. I remember when it opened. It was THE mall. Older malls seem to be closing/dying. At least around where I live. Replaced by newer shopping areas farther out of town. Not closed in malls, but shopping areas now.

 

I thought the Randall Mall  had 3 floors?

 

They tried a downtown shopping mall where I live now several decades ago trying to lure shoppers downtown. It barely lasted a decade and was eventually razed (it was 3 floors). With the closing of the sole multifloor downtown anchor dept store soon after, there is nothing downtown now for shoppers. Truly pathetic. It's strictly a 9 to 5 business area now. People work there and go home and its dead. (except for a few performing arts theaters).

The atrium of the mall had two floors, but the parking lots were on different slopes of land.  So when you went in on one way, you came out into the atrium, you were on the second floor of the mall and looking down over the balcony.  Then if you went in another way, you would be down on the first floor and looking up at the balcony.  At least one of the main anchor stores had three floors (Either JC Penny's or Higbee's, maybe both).  All the others had two stories each I think.

Here is a pic that illustrates all the different parking lot entry levels.  It is a very early drawing, so it doesn't account for most of the stores and shops in the middle yet (at the most there were 200 shops in the middle, about 100 on each level).  Here you see all the original anchor stores, as they were from 1976 and well into the 1990s.  The one missing anchor store (on the top left), was for a sixth anchor store, was reserved and intended for Halle's, which was never built because Halle's went out of business.  So it sat unused just like that until the mall had gone downhill.  Towards the end they built a "Magic Johnson Theater" in that spot, and it was short-lived.

Look at all the different "Upper" and "Lower" parking levels here: [click on image to expand, the embedding squished it horizontally.]

http://moviecollector.us/pics_to_hotlink_on_TCM/randallparkmall-plan-1976.jpg

 

 

The mall already had three cinemas when it was built, three very narrow rooms.  You got to it by going up to the second floor of the atrium.  Then you went in and through the ticket counter, and up a flight of stairs to the theaters.  There was another flight of stairs to get to the bathrooms.  The whole thing was sort of just a cramped little area that only took up one or two small units of storefront in the mall.

Here you can see the second-level entryway in the background.  This open area was the biggest of its type in the atrium, but there were several others with fountains and other things to see. [click on image to expand, the embedding squished it horizontally.]
http://moviecollector.us/pics_to_hotlink_on_TCM/randallparkmall-atrium-presentation-1976.jpg

 

Here is a close-up picture of the entryway.  You can see the ticket booth just inside, and the stairs to get to the theaters.  For such a large mall this cinema was cramped and had long lines. 


http://moviecollector.us/pics_to_hotlink_on_TCM/randallparkmall-cinema1-2-3.jpg

 

The 1976 opening premieres were as follows: 
Cinema I: The Gumball Rally
Cinema II: Walt Disney double-header - The Apple Dumpling Gang & Treasure At Matecumbe (1976)
Cinema III: Murder By Death
http://moviecollector.us/pics_to_hotlink_on_TCM/randallparkmall-opening-premieres-1976.jpg

 

Finally, here is one of the postage-stamp-sized screens (past its heyday), but you get the idea:
http://moviecollector.us/pics_to_hotlink_on_TCM/randall-park-mall-screens.jpg

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7 hours ago, MovieCollectorOH said:

Yeah, I read something about that.  I wonder how that fits into his population reduction plan.  Maybe an Experimental Prototype Population Reduction Community Of Tomorrow (E-PoP-R-COT?).  They will have forced immunizations for sure.  Maybe South Park will cover it in an upcoming episode "Mr. Bates".

Judging from the Windows 10 playbook:  It sounds like a place that will be micromanaged to the smallest detail.  Nothing will be private - expect at least 17 different types of telemetry or ways to get monitored.  Changes to your living arrangements will be made behind your back, changes which are bound to disrupt things for you, your belongings may randomly disappear.  People will be lured into it with freebies, and said freebies will conveniently become line item additions to the regular costs of your living arrangements, which you will happily subscribe to or rent in the near future just to maintain status quo.

But you will still have all your Facebook friends and high-speed Internet.

Sounds like complete dog crap to me, but there are probably some people out there who deserve to live at a place like that.

Actually MCOH, what it sounds like to me is THE TRUMAN SHOW.

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I see. It sounds similar to our downtown mall. You entered from one side on one level, but the entrance on the other side would be on another level, but there were 3 actual levels. The first floor was partly below ground level. It was a nice place but just too many stores and not enough draw to bring people downtown after hours. Ours didnt have any theaters though. Those theaters look AWFUL. Tiny. I never was in that mall, but drove by once. Yes, I remember Halle's going under years ago.

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That sounds a lot like Dearborn's FAIRLANE MALL.  Confusing bit of a mess, but still gets plenty of business.

Sepiatone

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On 11/17/2017 at 8:47 AM, Sepiatone said:

That sounds a lot like Dearborn's FAIRLANE MALL.  Confusing bit of a mess, but still gets plenty of business.

Sepiatone

I took a look at some images of Fairlane Mall and yes, even similar patterns on the ceiling. 

As long as the shoppers keep showing up and spending money, then it should be just fine.  The problem with Randall Mall was that shoppers who spend money were eventually too afraid to shop there anymore.

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I think it is incorrect to call this the death of suburbia. Rather, it is the death of the malls and big box stores as everybody just shops online. Just like phones and texting have killed the art of conversation, Amazon has killed the big box store. If the 1998 film "You've Got Mail" was made today, would it be about Meg Ryan nursing Tom Hanks through a nervous breakdown after his big box bookstore, obviously patterned after the now defunct Borders, is put out of business by Ammy?

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1 hour ago, calvinnme said:

I think it is incorrect to call this the death of suburbia. Rather, it is the death of the malls and big box stores as everybody just shops online.

What accounts for the abandoned golf courses and club houses?

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