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Congress For The New Urbanism

According to the CRU, Nineteen percent of our nations malls are vacant or dying. Besides being an eyesore, these properties are a lost source of business and tax revenue and can hinder a community from reaching its full potential

Who is the CRU? From their website:

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is the leading organization promoting walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to sprawl. CNU takes a proactive, multi-disciplinary approach to restoring our communities. Members are the life of the organization – they are the planners, developers, architects, engineers, public officials, investors, and community activists who create and influence our built environment, transforming growth patterns from the inside out. Whether it's bringing restorative plans to hurricane-battered communities in the Gulf Coast, turning dying malls into vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods, or reconnecting isolated public housing projects to the surrounding fabric, new urbanists are providing leadership in community building.

Our relationship with our members allows us to do more than just talk about the problems of the built environment. Together, we are creating tools that make it easier to put New Urbanism into practice around the world.

Along these lines, they have pushed several guides and studies into dying malls.

According to the CNU, they have been well received:


Through several of its studies, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) has raised public awareness of the problem of greyfield malls and offered hope by advancing a model for successful redevelopment. CNU is building a reputation for itself as the primary authority on greyfield redevelopment.

Its recent book, Greyfields Into Goldfields: Dead Malls Become Living Neighborhoods, is included in university libraries around the country, from Harvard and Yale to Kansas State. Newspapers and magazines also recognize CNU’s work on the forefront of greyfield revitalization and seek out CNU when developing articles on dead malls and efforts to convert them to productive use. Publications that have recently cited CNU’s studies include the Los Angeles Times (6/3/04), the Houston Chronicle(6/27/04), the Seattle Times (6/25/04), the Denver Post (4/4/04), the Journal-Gazette of Ft. Wayne, Ind. (8/1/04), The Record of Bergen County, N.J. (6/25/04), the Duluth News Tribune of Minnesota (6/24/04), and Contract magazine(8/17/04).

Articles on the greyfield study have also appeared in the New York Times (6/15/03), the Miami Herald (11/24/03), the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass. (9/7/03), American City & County (3/1/02), and the Christian Science Monitor (3/14/01).

CNU’s greyfield study found that 19 percent of the malls in America are dead or dying. As their malls cease to offer any value, communities are realizing the potential of new urbanist redevelopment. “The mall represents a point in time in the evolution of retailing, said Will Fleissig of the Congress for the New Urbanism, a San Francisco organization devoted to progressive urban planning. Now we're reaching the end of that era and entering something new. (“Shopping Around for Second Lives,” Brian Libby, New York Times, June 15, 2003).''

As Julie Tamaki reported recently in the Los Angeles Times: Although enclosed malls are not on the verge of vanishing - they continue to average higher sales per square foot than their outdoor counterparts - in recent years, more enclosed malls have been closed than have opened, according to a study by the International Council of Shopping Centers. From 2001 to 2003, more than 30 shopping centers, most of them enclosed, ceased functioning as malls, with many replaced by outdoor developments. (“More Shopping Malls Going Alfresco,” June 3, 2004) The media is responding to the positive impact of CNU’s studies, which give communities the tools they need to turn blighted areas into opportunities for economic, civic, and social revitalization.

Robert Nemeth reported in the Worcester, Mass., Telegram & Gazette: The idea of doing something else with the mall is not new. But the difference between Mr. Murray's approach and similar suggestions in the past is that the mayor has done his homework. His presentation is well researched and documented. He uses a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (“Greyfields into Goldfields”) to bolster his case. A “greyfield” is defined as a "developed site that is economically and physically ripe for major redevelopment.

Statistical analysis reveals that the downtown mall in Worcester fits that description. (“Mayor is on target firing at ‘greyfield,'” Sept. 7, 2003). In the Miami Herald, Andres Viglucci reported: "It may not be the right solution everywhere," said Lee Sobel, author of a book on mall conversions, "Greyfields into Goldfields." "But in certain communities that want to achieve an identity and may not have one, these properties can make that happen and serve as a catalyst for redevelopment." (“More People Calling the Mall Home,” Nov. 24, 2003).''

And appearing in Contract magazine: “CNU insists dead malls can reverse urban sprawl. Malls helped encourage the growth of car culture. They were surrounded by parking lots, not neighborhoods. But now, these greyfields can present an opportunity to create neighborhood-like spaces among suburbs and gap-toothed cities.” (“What’s Become of the Mall?” Sofia Galadza, Aug. 17, 2004) As the news spreads, CNU hopes that communities will embrace the opportunity to improve their built environment.''

Mall References

In 2001 the CNU explored the need for and potential of greyfield redevelopment with the Greyfield Regional Mall Study. CNU produced the study in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Greyfield Study Executive Summary - Attach:greyfieldvol2.pdf

Greyfield Study - February 2001 - Attach:greyfieldfeb01.pdf

CNU Strategic Plan 2007-2012 - Attach:CNUStrategicPlan0712.pdf

In 2002, CNU went on to publish a book studying the Greyfield Regional Mall - Greyfields Into Goldfields: Dead Malls Become Living Neighborhoods.

2005 brought a guide, the third study, Malls Into Mainstreets, assisting local officials, owners and developers through the redevelopment process. An in-depth guide to transforming dead malls into communities. Attach:MallsIntoMainstreets.pdf


Congress For The New Urbanism - Dying Malls Become Vibrant Communities