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American malls making way for new kind of retail

Real estate expert expects 'completely different' look for malls in 10 years

PLANTATION, Fla.

Are we seeing the death of the American mall?

 

Already this year, Macy's, the nation's largest department store operator, announced it is closing 68 stores. Legacy brand Sears is in trouble and will close 42 stores. Once-discount king Kmart is shuttering 108 stores, and retail discounter Kohl's has already closed 18 stores.

 

"Malls are not where people are shopping anymore," Greg Matus, senior vice president for real estate firm Franklin Street, told Local 10 News. "Everything has moved online, and the new demographic today isn't looking to go and walk through a mall."

 

But the retail wreckage cannot be entirely blamed on internet sales. While online sales continue to rise, 85 percent of retail sales are still at brick-and-mortar sites. But with so many big retailers shutting stores or downsizing, why is South Florida seeing a boom in retail developments?

 

The old Fashion Mall in Plantation is being demolished and replaced with a $300 million, 73,000-square-foot mixed-use retail entertainment destination.

 

The old Dania Beach Hurricane roller coaster was demolished last year to make way for an $800 million shopping and entertainment complex called Dania Pointe.

 

There is also the American Dream Miami, a $4 billion, 200-acre retail and entertainment theme park proposed for northwest Miami-Dade County.

 

"These new malls are not traditional malls like we have known in the past," Matus said. "They are entertainment complexes. They are places for people to interact, for people to eat, for people to shop."

 

So what happens to traditional malls? Will they survive?

 

Matus believes every mall "will look completely different" in 10 years.

 

"You are going to start to see a lot of restaurants added to the outside of the malls, Matus said. "The refacing of the malls facing the main streets are going to look more retail and social-oriented."

 

Sears wants to downsize its store at the Westfield Broward. The mall sees it as an opportunity to renovate, so there are plans to turn the northern end of Sears, where the auto care center is located, into outdoor restaurants and retail.

 

The American mall may be dead, but a whole new Phoenix is rising from the ashes.