Living At The Mall: Now For Rich People

A new trend is poised to sweep the country: living at the mall. Developers are building luxury condos attached to malls, and at one in the Boston suburbs, they’re selling for $420k to $1.6 million. Some people like the idea of being able to stroll downstairs and go to Nordstrom’s and Neiman Marcus. Others think that it gives them a taste of their conception of what constitutes urban life. Hey, at least there’s ample parking.

3BR, mall view [Boston Globe]
(Photo: Erik Jacobs)

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  1. varco says:

    In Scottsdale, AZ (an upscale part of the greater Phoenix area), they’ve had some of these for about a year or so. They overlook a big ditch they call the “Scottsdale Riverfront” or something. And admit it–who wouldn’t want to pay >$500,000 to live in a mall parking lot?

  2. crescentia says:

    Can we say pretentious? Some people just love to live the American stereotype.

  3. HeyThereKiller says:

    I just hide behind a wall of denim and sleep in Ruehl every nite

  4. so5minutesago says:

    They just built condos at a new mall in suburban Milwaukee. It has a gym and a Trader Joe’s in addition to all the regular shops and restraunts and things. You never have to leave. It’s like Hotel California.

  5. tycho55 says:

    “…Kellie DuGally, 37, owner of an online sales company in Hudson, who plans to convert one of the penthouse’s three bedrooms into a closet for her clothing and shoes.”

    Lookup the words pretentious and superficial in the dictionary, and *bam*, you’ll see her picture. :)

  6. DorothyZbornak says:

    I lived at the mall in 1991. Wonder if these girls will rock the “mall bangs” too?

  7. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    I used to live in Natick. The best part is the “view” they advertise.
    Trees and the Mass Pike. Enjoy snobs

  8. valthun says:

    San Diego’s Horton Plaza has had apartments built in the structure with private parking for residence for over a decade now. I looked into them when they were first announced. They had some very strange rules. Such as no overnight guests and only allowing a set number of guests at a time per unit.

    I passed on it, but it was during a time when I considered living in a downtown urban environment.

  9. girlfriend 6.0 says:

    Hah…I wrote a paper about this trend two months ago, Natick in particular.

  10. Eh, I grew up in New Jersey. Been there, done that.

  11. bohemian says:

    The Mall of America has or had plans to do this. I have not heard anything on it for a while so they may have scrapped the idea.

    Living near the mall might not be bad since the lightrail line starts there. I can’t imagine living IN the mall.

  12. CollegeCamel says:

    the idea of living at the Natick Mall is ridiculous…but I’m not gonna lie, I am in love with the new Natick Collection area of the mall….its awesome. And there’s a sicknasty gelato stand on the second floor near Anthropologie

  13. Starfury says:

    Here in the SF Bay Area they’ve got a few developments with shops on the bottom and condo/apartments on the upper levels. They tend to build them by rail/bus stations so people don’t need a car to get to work.

    They’re not cheap to live in.

  14. UpsetPanda says:

    @tycho55: I’d love to convert one of my rooms into a closet for shoes and clothes. I’d love to have enough shoes to justify this project.

  15. shan6 says:

    If I see this I might just vandalize their homes.

    (probably not, but I would reeeeeeeaaaaaaaally want to)

  16. luckybob343 says:

    These mixed-use developments are popping up in most major and secondary markets. I work for a retail real-estate magazine and see the ads and listings all the time. For the life of me, I can not figure out why these are becoming popular. I’m assuming it has something to do with tax breaks for various types of construction, and building retail, residential and office properties in the same place allows developers to take advantage of all three. Regardless, I think its an asinine concept and I can’t imagine that many people go for it.

    Another concept to watch for is the “de-malling” of a property. Malls are apparently passe now and the shopping center of choice is the open-air power or lifestyle center. Basically, malls are now being closed, their multiple level halls demolished, their anchors left freestanding and refreshed, and miniature strip centers are built between them. The remaining landscape is converted to parking and landscaped parks. Again, I don’t see the logic of this as very few areas of the country are suitable for outdoor activity year-round.

  17. RaRaRad says:

    I grew up in Natick, where the Natick “Collection” is located, and I can tell you that it’s positively ridiculous. No one wants to go anywhere near the mall, and the thought of property that costs that much, and the type of people it will bring, is a nightmare.

    The last thing we need is tools moving into town who can potentially never see the light of day.

  18. warf0x0r says:

    Well I wouldn’t have to clean a toilet ever again, just stroll downstairs to Macy’s. On a side note I’d imagine this will increase the possibility of the movie Mannequin becoming more of a documentary.

  19. boca.llena.de.galletitas says:

    Um. I’m with Thoreau on this one.

  20. davere says:

    Here in Orlando they are building “luxury condos and office space” attached to a Super Target.

  21. realjen01 says:

    @varco: Or Kierland Commons…also in Scottsdale. Hella expensive and just a hop, skip and a jump away from Borders, Banana, Urban and some overly priced restaurants. Plus from your balcony you can see people shopping!

  22. BeSarcastic says:

    I live in Natick, and I hate the mall. It’s hideous. The thought of this middle class town being invaded by people with chihuahuas named Jasmine makes me want to… move.

  23. dotorg greg says:

    my inlaws lived this particular American Dream for a year–in Hong Kong. Their apartment was on top of new luxury mall on the Harbor. In fact, they lived above like five malls, since they were all connected by air-conditioned skyways and stuff. I have to say, it *was* pretty convenient to go downstairs and buy a laptop at the Apple store.

    But that only took about an hour, and when it was done, there they were, still living above a mall.

  24. loganmo says:

    So when is Walmart going to attach Section (8) housing to its stores so its underpaid employees can afford somewhere nice to live? They can even install lead, er, I mean granite countertops.

  25. optical_allusion says:

    @RaRaRad: I work near the Natick Mall, and what I can’t figure out is who they expect to move into these. The people who can afford to buy these places and shop in the new wing of the mall regularly – can’t they afford to live in the Back Bay and shop on Newbury Street and Copley? And not have an annoying commute down the Pike every day? Maybe I’m not rich enough to understand.

    When I was in the third grade, this was one of my favorite books: [www.amazon.com] What I always remembered about it was the giant mall-of-the-future, where there were people who lived and worked and ate and shopped in the mall, and never left for their whole lives. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. When I was 8.

  26. JustAGuy2 says:

    They have this in downtown Boston too – very nice apartments connected to the Pru Center mall.

  27. retailwhore says:

    @IvyLeagueMetalhead: Seriously. People have been living at Jersey malls for a really long time. There’s a retirement community right off of the Garden State Plaza, and I always envied those older people when I was a kid…”What do you mean I’m too young to live here? That’s discrimination!” And I thought I saw attached condos when I visited a South Jersey mall with a friend of mine.

  28. QuiteSpunky says:

    Didn’t this already happen in ‘Dawn of the Dead?’

  29. etinterrapax says:

    Ample parking? Are you kidding? I have been there only on the occasional shopping excursion, and you can’t park anywhere near it. And that was before they built condos over half the parking lot.

  30. scoosdad says:

    @Cassifras: ..and a little to the right and you’re looking into the Home Depot parking lot! Wonderful views all around!

  31. Mayor McRib says:

    I would love to live above the Apple store just so I could sponge the free wifi and create my own Genius Bathroom.

  32. Quellman says:

    Pick a non-major city like Huntsville, Alabama and then analyze. The new Bridgestreet Shopping Center has condos attached to the ‘outdoor’ mall. Like others have said >$500,000. We don’t even have Macy’s, Nordstom, etc. We are getting our first PF Changs and our first J. Crew this next year. Interesting thing is, all of the condos are sold, even the 2.1 million penthouse.

  33. exkon says:

    This is sad, this is what developers are pouring their money into, super-expensive condos/townhouses right next to the mall.

    Lincoln Square in Belluvue, WA is doing the exact same thing. But its like 3 different housing areas. Most of places are going for $600k+

  34. mrstephengross says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time, both in and out of academia, analyzing urban & suburban land usage trends. Although there are a number of well-understood in-demand housing configurations, this one is certainly news to me.

    Generally speaking, the condo market is driven by wealthy people who want high-end amenities and proximity to employment centers. Shopping is not usually high on their list, since most Americans are content to drive to retail centers.

    If there really is demand for this kind of housing, it means that transportation to-and-from upscale shopping districts is taking up too much time for some people. That is, there’s a group of people in this country who shop at places like Natick Collection so often that it’s more efficient for them to locate their residences at the mall itself.

    To some extent, this surprises me. I know that consumer spending, especially on luxury goods, is high in this country. But is it really so high that a developer can make money selling 200+ condos at the mall?

    Then again, perhaps it is. I lived in Cleveland (OH) for a time, and the suburbs are indeed experiencing this kind of change in housing development. The main factor (at least in Cleveland’s case) that made this possible is the absolute dearth of upscale, NON-mall-based retail districts. Although there are plenty of low- and medium-end retail districts, I really had to drive a LOT to get to much of my shopping. It took up a lot of time. So, in a region where much of the shopping is taking place at malls anyway, why NOT build housing there?

    Then again, maybe the condos won’t sell and the developer will go out of business. Then this discussion will be moot (!).

  35. quail says:

    The tempting thing about such an arrangement is that a majority of malls in the USA do have every convenience you might want. Gyms, hair salons, restaurants of every category, clothing stores, etc. It would be nice to be able to walk from home and do all of those things without worrying about driving.

    What a novel concept.

    Oh. Wait, a minute. We had that back in the 1930’s. It was called mainstreet and it was located in about every town. Yep. Before the auto revolution and urban sprawl.

  36. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @luckybob343: Developers sre focusing on mixed-use because that’s what cities are approving. Cities want mixed use because residents complain about too many malls and not enough housing. It’s win-win for developers and city planners.

    While I wouldn’t want to live at a mall, I can see living in a planned community with local park, library, a dry cleaners, bank, farmers market, drug store, and coffee shop within the complex. With gas being $3.80/gallon here, it’s mad convenient to be able to walk to do most of my errands.

  37. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    PS. If I could find a 3/2 condo for $400k here in Los Angeles, I’d buy it in a heartbeat, mall or no.

  38. Smackdown says:

    They’re doing this in Austin at The Domain. It’s shocking how many douchebags think that the highlife is living within walking distance of a Lacoste.

  39. Freedomboy says:

    A little depression will go a loooooooonnnnnngggggg way towards dampening the resale of these silly ideas. Just watch.

  40. edwardso says:

    A direct path into the mall is a little ridiculous but developments like this are excellent in large cities where space is scarce. DC Metro is full of them. The stores tend to be nicer than the free standing ones. The best grocery stores in my area are all under apartments. If I could afford them I would love to live in one, I spend enough of my time commuting

  41. North of 49 says:

    Urbmons. I forget the name of the book, but essentially, everyone in the world lives in skyscrapers. They work in skyscrapers. They die in skyscrapers. They shop in the skyscrapers. They never leave the skyscrapers. The lower you are in the skyscraper, the lower your status level.

    That’s what the “living at the mall” amounts to. An Urbmon.

  42. huginn says:

    I was just at this mall last week on the day after black friday. I used to work in the sears of it years early for summer money. A Wonderful town known for Doug Flutie, and where family guy went after the nuke for twinkies

    It is a serious work of art what they have done, a little wing exclusively for the private upper class citizens.

    buuut what happens when the Mall rats, teenyboppers, punks and skins start invading on the luxury’s turf? What happens when Rich Uncle Pennybucks steps outside for a morning job and finds his ‘yard’ is overwhelmed with old people.

    It sounds like a reality show. When The Rich meet the Mall.

  43. LittleBlackFly says:

    This is new? The downtown mall in my home town has a condo building attached to it – built in 1984. Of course, the entire downtown is essentially a hamster habitat with walkways and tunnels attaching most of the buildings so that the locals can avoid the winter as much as possible.

  44. shch says:

    neat, i guess, but as you’ve already posted, some people already thought of this, and didn’t have to pay rent to the mall either.

    [consumerist.com]

  45. ahwannabe says:

    Anything that cuts down on traffic is peachy keen in my book. although it would be great if these ventures fail and they have to convert those luxury condos into affordable apartments for the people who actually work at the mall. That would be awesome.

  46. Pylon83 says:

    Look at Downtown Chicago. Water Tower Place is attached to one of the most expensive retail malls in town. Chicago Place has attached private condos. The John Hancock Center has shopping and restaurants. 900 N Michigan has “The Shops at 900″ attached (HIGH end retail). This has been going on for years up here.

  47. Sonnymooks says:

    What is ironic, is that this could be considered really environmentally friendly.

    I.E. no traveling to go shopping, no need to use the car or bus or whatever, to purchase, and less of a need to order online and have items shipped to you.

    I wonder if thats actually included in the sales pitch?

  48. iamme99 says:

    Think about it. If they have a few bars down below and you meet someone, you don’t have to go very far. And you never need to call a cab [lol].

  49. joebloe says:

    Are rich people so stupid to pay $1.6Mil for $2200sqf condo at Natick Mall? Maybe I am not rich enough nor dumb enough to understand.

  50. Xerloq says:

    November 23rd, 2007, 0400 hours.
    -911 emergency
    -Um, yes, there’s some kind of disturbance going on downstairs. The neighbor is having some kind of crazy frat party or something.
    -Address please
    -I live at the mall, 3rd floor. I’m not getting any sleep. People are screaming. I think it’s a stampede.
    -Sir, you live at the mall, and are calling 911 on Black Friday.
    -Wha..?
    -Sir, Do you see where I’m going with this?
    -…
    -Sir eat a turkey sandwich and go back to bed.
    Click.

  51. smoldering says:

    @Xerloq: Yea, basically sums it up.

    I dont think I’d want that many squirrly teenagers wandering around me. And if anything I think parking would be a bitch on weekends and during the holiday season.

  52. missdelite says:

    I live above a mini mall here in Toronto.
    Drugstore & liquor store just downstairs–what more do you need?

  53. nardo218 says:

    I read this in a horror/sci-fi book fifteen years ago. They were like molepeople, never saw the sun.

  54. nardo218 says:

    @optical_allusion: OH MY GOD YES!! This is the book! Not a horror, other than the horror of moving to the moon! I read that book over and over.

  55. Chairman-Meow says:

    Hoo Hoo Ha ha!

    I want to meet the dumbasses who move into these “luxury-super-premium” condos. With all the McMansions around Boston being auctioned off, i’m sure these will sell like hotcakes!

  56. aka Cat says:

    @optical_allusion: Part of me is still eight and thinks that this would be neat as heck. But I’d only buy a condo like this if I was so filthy stinking rich that I could afford multiple luxury homes.

  57. kracer22 says:

    Unless the ceilings are made of pure 24 carat gold.. and the toilets encrusted with thousands of Swarofski crystals.. thats a really tacky idea.. hehe

  58. Mary says:

    It’s called New Urbanism, at least that’s at the heart of the idea. And I’m wholeheartedly a fan of it. Americans should be more open to the idea of being within walking distance of the things they need. While this one might be ridiculous and for the super rich, places like Metro West in Vienna, Virginia (which is also called Transit Oriented Development) are things that could really change the landscape of the country for the better. Less driving, less pollution, more of a sense of community, etc. The benefits for those willing to embrace it are large.

    I live in a condo complex next to a shopping center that isn’t exactly a shining example of New Urbanism, but it’s close enough. If I could just get a job in the plaza, I’d be able to get rid of that money sink I call a car.

  59. Inay says:

    I agree with Meiran. I live in Portland, OR and property here is silly expensive. I was reading the article and thinking that $400,000 or $500,000 was cheap for an condo! We have an “urban growth boundary” (which I agree with) that makes subdivisions more difficult to build. However, the old warehouse district next to downtown has been redeveloped in the past 10 years to condos and is now the Pearl District. So you get to pay $600,000 and up for under 800 sq ft. Not to mention all the homeless sleeping in the doorways. The urine smell is free.

    But look, I wish all the malls in Portland would build
    condos overhead. That would help stop urban sprawl. Help the traffic a little by keeping those folks who want to live at the mall off the streets and let the rest of us get to Mt Hood, the Columbia Gorge, or the coast without having to be behind them in the car.