What Should We Do with Deserted Malls?

The American enclosed shopping mall is an endangered species. With retail sales down, chains are closing. That's leaving malls without tenants....

The American enclosed shopping mall is an endangered species. With retail sales down, chains are closing. That's leaving malls without tenants. One report put the vacancy rate at the end of 2008 at 7.1 percent. And so malls themselves are closing.But we've still got the buildings. So, what do we do with them? Over the weekend, The New York Times put that question to some people with particularly interesting perspectives on the issue.Two artchitecture professors who co-wrote the book Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs, predicted: "Smaller malls in older suburbs will increasingly house nonconventional, community-serving tenants, including community college classrooms, branch libraries, spaces for nonprofit arts groups, places of worship, immigrant ‘mom and pop' shops, and public and private office space."Peter Blackbird, the founder of, says: "Most times, if the building is cheaply constructed, and neglected for years, the only viable option is demolition."I like the idea of repurposing malls a lot. But they aren't the ideal structures for multi-purpose community space. They tend to be designed around the car, surrounded by a sea of parking spaces. You'd have to do some serious relandscaping to make the average suburban mall friendly to cyclists and pedestrians (if they're even within cycling distance from residential neighborhoods in the first place). And malls aren't particularly inviting spaces inside. They tend to be enclosed and tacky.What do you think? Is bulldozing vacant malls the best option or can we make use of them?Photo by Flickr user Eddie~S, licensed under Creative Commons.
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Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

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For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

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The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

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