When I was a kid, we hung out at the Montgomery Mall. The mall opened in 1968, and we moved to that area in 1971. I remember first going to the mall and how unbelievable it was that so many stores were under one roof. Sears, Garfinkels and Woodroth and Lothrop were the anchor tenants. Two of these three stores do not exist anymore. Unclear what it was I would do all day, considering I did not have a credit card, but somehow dropping me off at the mall for hours on end appeared to be the thing to do. Perhaps built-in teenage babysitting.
Over the years, the mall evolved, eventually opening a food court, as all good malls do. At one point, cinemas entered, and new stores came and went. Finally, traffic slowly reached the point that the property was worth more than anything else.
1993 the mall was sold to a group, and Westfield took it over. The name has changed, of course, to the Westfield Montgomery. Spending that kind of money would make it seem that having your name on the wall is essential.
In 2018, the time came to completely renovate the place, as in knock it down and start again. Teens hanging out in the mall ceased, and so did endless shopping days at the mall, so the next generation needed to be built. Now, there is a hotel, housing, common areas, a vast complex, an ice skating rink, and tons of stores for food and other items. Having 717 residential units will be the ultimate key to their success.
If you have not been to Domino Sugar Factory, you are missing out on one of the best developments I have seen in a long time. Of course, there are no malls, thank god, but the stores are curated, and there is plenty of rental housing. 30% of that housing went to middle-income housing, and those people were awarded those places in an auction. There is an outstanding green area with plenty of different activities on the water.
We saw a film at 28 Liberty this past weekend that has been completely remodeled with pickleball courts inside, an art area, hanging areas, an Alamo Draft House, and plenty of new spaces to take over. It could eventually be an excellent spot for teenagers to hang out all day after a film.
How we interact and experience retail is changing. It is exciting to see developers begin to rethink their buildings and how people want to engage with them. Housing is also first and foremost, but having a supportive system for everyone living there is the right step towards building new communities, at least for now.