Old malls use eco-friendly techniques

Old malls use eco-friendly techniques

That whole period in the 1970s and 1980s when huge malls were erected throughout the country? A traditional chain may or may not have included anchors such as a department store or two, several smaller retailers, a multiplex movie theater, and a food court. These are now closing in increasing numbers. 

Mall tracking service Green Street Advisors claims that 50% of these retail locations have shuttered throughout the country since 2010. More of these giant retail complexes will collapse shortly, predicts The New Rules of Retailing author Robin Lewis. Once all that vacant space is gone, what should be done?

Allow urban farms and gardens to develop.

The Galleria At Erie View concept was originated by Vicky Poole. Poole, the Galleria’s marketing and events director compared the Galleria’s glass-domed ceilings to a greenhouse since her grandfather’s property was like a greenhouse when she was a youngster. She had a plan to begin producing fresh vegetables, herbs, and tomatoes for sale to families and restaurants. The garden would increase the number of consumers who visited the few remaining enterprises.

In her vision, Poole wanted to have both schools and various community organizations come to the Galleria to learn about gardening and sustainability. In line with the project’s requirements, she handled the local restaurant’s fresh vegetable demands. She was given a generous donation of organic mulch from a local wholesaler. The campus guest recommended that they might want to attempt aeroponic gardening.

Plans were in place to make the market a functional farmers’ market.

To fund the research, Poole asked for grant money. She hoped that volunteers would be in charge of cultivating the plants. The first raised beds, which were six by twelve feet, were installed in 2010.

Despite significant fundraising, by 2012, the “Gardens Under Glass” project remained on hold. It was difficult for Poole to collect sufficient, committed volunteers. It took a long time to save enough money to pay for routine maintenance. She changed the mall into a community meeting place containing a museum, offices for the local Bar Association, and a TV studio for ESPN. Local merchants set up shops in the halls to sell their products. The neighborhood YMCA has recently opened, and the Galleria food court is bustling with customers.

All of this is acceptable. As well as providing a model for using commercial spaces in more innovative ways, it shows how abandoned malls may be re-purposed to house other non-retail companies. It’s a good question, though: Would it be feasible to get locally grown, organic produce for restaurants in urban areas?

Rooftop and greenhouse urban gardening are prevalent in our cities. The increasing prevalence of rooftop gardens has caused one online, urban-oriented website to include a “Top Five” list of urban rooftop gardens. Commercial developments, like one in Brooklyn, have these sorts of gardens. These initiatives, such as the one located on top of a parking garage in Seattle, frequently serve the community. It is not uncommon for their focus on teaching, as this rooftop garden in Cincinnati shows. This means the answer is a resounding yes. Malls can become the new urban farms.

The Healthy Outdoors