Re: “Bizarre plan to turn downtown Seattle mall into offices in doubt” [Sept. 2, Business]:
Brick-and-mortar malls may have passed their heyday as retail spaces, but they could be repurposed for affordable housing. Malls tend to be centrally located, served by public transit, with welcoming accessible architecture, and both indoor and outdoor spaces.
I picture a mall as a planned micro-community of affordable and transitional housing with on-site essentials like a grocery store, pharmacy, child- and pet-care centers, a library, and medical and legal outreach services. The on-site commercial entities would be handy for the whole neighborhood, not just tenants. The indoor common areas would not need much change to provide safe places to exercise and socialize. The roof could be leased for solar-power generation. Tenants (and neighbors) could participate in programs to reclaim the acres of paved outdoor areas at suburban malls for green space, community gardens and play fields.
It is not a profit-making idea, so it could not be done by profit-seeking corporations, but I suspect it would be more affordable in a cost-benefit analysis than many other approaches to solving a housing crisis.
Retail deserts could support life again.
Susan Levitt, Poulsbo