[The 90s raw: Eddie Tape #92 – Malls]

Eddie Tape #92. Malls. Interviews with Joel Garreau and Pat Fox about malls in America.

00:00Copy video clip URL Continued footage from tape 10942, interview with Joel Garreau. Garreau notes that malls have a use other than to attract shoppers. People go to malls before stores open to exercise. In some ways it’s how a Chinese village square operates with elderly present in the morning to exercise. In the afternoon the mall fills with mall rats, teenagers promenading in front of the opposite sex like a Mexican town square. How do you extend this?

01:52Copy video clip URL He notes edge cities and malls are built for convenience. He notes that Americans will not walk more than 600-feet without getting into a car. Mall builders know this and design accordingly. They play psychological games and turn a mall into a maze so a person cannot realize how far they would have to walk to get to a certain store. By doing this, it keeps people in the mall and, in theory, shopping.

03:15Copy video clip URL Builders plan for other activities to keep a person at the mall: movies, food, office space, hotel and convention centers. He notes the examples of this happening in Reston, Virginia; Irving area in Orange County, the Galleria area in Houston.

05:20Copy video clip URL Garreau notes that the mall is like cable television. There are lots of options. He notes that in our culture the minute something becomes desirable we commodify it. The good news is that this brings the finest of culture to the most remote places in ways that was only available downtown to the elite. The bad news is that something about this “gives us the creeps.” In answering the question, ‘Why does American intelligentsia hate malls?’ Garreau points out that edge cities put overwhelming value on individualism. The demand for things like a boutique shop gets turned into a cliche and become available to the masses. An example of good taste, like Godiva chocolate, once only for the elite is suddenly available to everyone. Garreau says, That’s what bothers people. It used to be their private reserve on 5th Avenue and now it’s available to the common people.

10:28Copy video clip URL Garreau adds that the more uses a place has, such as adding hotels, tennis courts, the less control owners have over the place. It becomes public. He says the further he gets into the study of edge cities the more of an anarchist he becomes. There are so many things happening at the Galleria area in Houston: helicopters landing next to people playing tennis next to people shopping. It turns the “Leave it To Beaver” idea of life on its head. The middle class in the late 20th Century is diverse. This is reflected by all the variety in the food court. The really authentic foods are now found in strip malls.

28:30Copy video clip URL When asked what the difference is between a mall and a strip mall, Garreau points out that at a mall everything happens indoors. At a strip mall there is a common sidewalk. They are usually not attractive, but quick and cheap. Ethnic group vendors and customers can go in and not pay mall prices. He notes that SoHo in New York used to be filled with manufacturers lofts. At some point people started turning them into art studios. A brick warehouse was turned into a trendy place. Garreau says he’s waiting for an artist to take over a disused K-Mart and turn it into an art space.

31:40Copy video clip URL He says fifty per cent of people today live, work or play in or around an edge city. They talk about how this will affect politics and voters choosing a President. There’s no inherent issue in edge cities that will make it Republican or Democratic. But politicians need to look at how people are living today and understand why they are opting for edge cities: because it is solving problems they have.

34:09Copy video clip URL Garreau adds that the wisdom of the 1960s was that if everyone moves from the cities to the suburbs the old downtowns will die. That is not true. The old downtowns haven’t died. He notes that the 1980s were the best decade in the 20th Century for most of the downtowns. There’s a lot of growth. People love downtowns because they have history. Edge cities do not have that. Downtowns have theater and most of the professional stadiums. He predicts downtowns in the future won’t be the center of the universe, but they will be a specialized urban place.

37:37Copy video clip URL Videographer cuts.

37:40Copy video clip URL Change of location. Interview with Pat Fox, urban designer working with communities in edge cities. She introduces herself.

38:17Copy video clip URL She suggests that the idea of cities having one center from which many suburbs extend will be replaced by edge cities that have multiple city centers. These centers will be the main places people shop, work and socialize.

39:38Copy video clip URL There is too much background noise. The interview stops and re-starts. Fox notes that the problems edge cities face now, in their infancy, is that they are built for cars as its only means of transportation. Because most edge cities are not incorporated there’s no sense of ownership or governing body to serve people who live, work and play there. She says it’s a process of trying to identify the city’s parents. She notes she has been involved in symposiums that include business and land owners, developers, community members, church and civic leaders, representatives of elderly groups. She notes the issues they discuss are traffic congestion, transportation, job opportunities, cost of development. She notes there are so many edge cities now the competition has them all struggling.

44:30Copy video clip URL When comparing jobs to the population of edge cities, Fox notes that about a third of the population can work in edge city. Many would be low wage workers brought in from outside of edge city. She says that edge cities need to eventually be able to offer employment to all its citizens and supply all their daily needs. This gets into the area of affordable housing.

47:25Copy video clip URL Fox re-frames her answer, saying that the mall is the center of opportunity at an edge city. Some are taking a lead in making change for their community. The malls are remodeling to use structured parking so that the parking lots in adjacent land can be developed into businesses that offer more jobs. She says the popular complaint about malls is that they’re cookie cutter and contain the same chain stores. Fox notes that now there is a surge of small mom & pop shops appearing to dispel that myth.

50:00Copy video clip URL Fox says that malls used to be a place shoppers went for large purchases and to fraternize. Now you can go to a movie theater, eat in a restaurant, some offer rehearsal space, art museums, libraries or civic functions like a post office. She suggests there might one day be office spaces or government offices in a mall.

52:05Copy video clip URL The discussion turns to the idea that anchor stores, major department stores, are no longer the driving force of a mall, that smaller strip malls now compete. Some department stores have closed down or consolidated. Others shrink or offer discount prices outside the mall. Fox predicts that in the future department stores won’t be what they used to be. She can’t say what causes the change, but notes that shopping habits change.

56:26Copy video clip URL Fox says the most important change for malls is how they can offer culture and civic amenities. They’ll have more recreation like amusement parks, school concerts, things that identify it as a community space. The mall will become more like a downtown main street. She says one mall was considering running a light rail through it for the public’s convenience.

59:55Copy video clip URL She says development regulations, a kind of constitution, between the county governments, businesses, and homeowners to determine how edge cities will be built and what regulations will be employed. The process of how this constitution is written will be the most important factor to avoid monopoly.

01:03:05Copy video clip URL END in mid-sentence.



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