Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Death of Downtown, the sequel

London's downtown was no different than hundreds of others across North America. As London's suburban malls grew, the city's downtown shrank. Like so many other places, London suffered from the doughnut blight — a healthy city surrounded an empty core. Today many of those magnificent suburban malls, credited with killing the downtowns in their respective cities, are themselves facing extinction.

This is the second floor of London's Westmount Shopping Centre on Wonderland Road. The mall opened in 1971 with 15 stores and expanded in 1973, adding about 50 new retailers. By 1989 the mall, expanded yet again, offering underground parking and more than 160 retailers in two wings on two floors.

But big box retailers are doing to the malls what the malls did to the downtowns — hollowing them out, gutting them of retailers. Westmount Mall's second floor sits almost deserted today. With retailers gone, the mall is hoping to convert the second floor into office space.

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