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Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Columbia Mall as a relic of the 1960's

    I recently wrote about Sears facing possible bankruptcy.  Now we learn that the Sears store that has anchored one wing of the Columbia Mall is going from two floors to one floor.  While this may be more telling about Sears future than the future of the Columbia Mall it does make one to wonder how long the concept of an enclosed mall will work in Columbia's downtown.  The latest additions to the Mall have been to a more open concept. By the way, Champps and Unos in the newer section have closed.
      How is the Columbia Mall relevant as the focus of downtown Columbia?  As we hear talk about changes in the downtown area of Columbia the fact is that the original concept of Columbia came from a company that existed primarily by building enclosed malls.  Hundreds of square feet of enclosed retail shopping surrounded by acres of parking was relevant in the 1960's suburban development but how does it translate to the development of today's online retail world?
      Is it too early to talk about life after the Columbia Mall?  Maybe Columbia will always be nothing more than a nice suburb as long as it is tied to the suburban enclosed mall concept.  If we were to look at the space being occupied by the Mall becoming a "downtown entertainment area" that would give us a more urban feel.   What would this downtown entertainment area look like?  I found this article that gave 12 ways to make a downtown more vibrant.  Some of the points may not apply to Columbia but some are worth looking at and some might have to wait for the land to be remade that now is occupied by our 1960's relic.

P.S.
     For a good read on Rouse's ideas for Columbia the book "Jim Rouse: Capitalist/Idealist by Paul Marx is a good place to start.  It can be read online at Google books.

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1 comment:

Brent The Brewer said...

It would be nice to get a different store in the mall than Sears or see the space repurposed. I use to be a huge fan of Sears. The salesmen at their stores were always full of information about the products they were selling. Their customer service was outstanding as well. So I never minded paying more for an item there because it came with some knowledge and support.

However, having purchased a washer/dryer combo from them a few years back and the incompetence I had to deal with from staff at the Columbia store and subsequent "customer service" lines, they forever lost me as a customer. I was passed from one bumbling know nothing to another and it took weeks to get my new gas dryer hooked up. It was an inconvenience because I had already sent my old washer/dryer off to get recycled. Having never received an apology or recognition that it was their fault, I vowed never to shop there again for anything other than Craftsman tools. Now that Craftsman was sold to Black and Decker, there really is no need to go there.