Could a New Urbanist retrofit strengthen a suburban mall’s competitive position? Could it halt the decline of sprawl that’s grown up around the mall? Could it reverse region-wide negative perceptions of the area? Could it transform two square miles of nowhere into a somewhere that people choose to live, work, shop, and invest in?
The Dayton Mall Area Transformation Plan aims to do all of that with placemaking based on New Urbanist principles. With rapidly changing demographics, economics, and market preferences, the mall was presented with new opportunities and challenges. To unlock the area’s full potential, our team instituted extensive public outreach and collaboration—we educated the public as they educated us, helping us to appreciate their goals for better connections, new parks and public spaces, expanded housing options, increased job opportunities, and more shopping, dining, and entertainment variety.
After working with the community to develop a New Urbanist vision, the planning team devised a clear, phased plan keyed to the market, developed a unifying identity program, and identified steps for implementation and funding. This transformative plan enabled a fragmented area to emerge as an authentic 21st-century village center that embraced the spectrum of community life.