It was no surprise reading a L.A. Times business story recently that major commercial real estate developers are increasingly considering adding housing to their mix of mall brews.
That malls and mini malls, and shopping centers are struggling is not news for developers, real estate investors, and city planners-in-the know, as I comment this week on public radio 97.5 KBU andf select websites everywhere.
More and more shoppers are frankly shunning the malls in favor of on-line shopping, where in the comfort of their homes they can view a wealth of products, weigh bargains, and, if are alert to specials, enjoy free home delivery, and easy returns.
As a result, some 25 per cent of America’s malls are expected to close in the next five years., while others struggle to become more appealing. This includes recycling malls in the mode of walkable villages, featuring speciality shops, boutiques, and a range of intimate eateries and entertainment
Now the latest ingredient is housing; and not coincidentally needed more than ever, as California suffers under an acute housing shortage, in particular affordable housing.
Challenging certainly will be the recycling of previously commercial developments, especially the malls anchored by major department stores. It may in some cases prompt bulldozing; after all it is the land and location that is valuable.
Challenging also will be the obvious need for some major rezoning, which depending on the proposed housing, nearby neighborhoods may not like.
This brings me back to my conflicted Malibu, whose efforts at planning at best have been behind the times, and in some cases unfortunately behind the counter.
Malibu I feel is ripe for this recycling in its so-called civic center, which actually is less a center than a scattered collection of suburban mini malls. And no doubt the pending approved shopping centers there catering to tourists will only make it worse, and I suspect the developers also may be having second thoughts, given the shifting shopping trends.
And so once again, as I have strongly suggested in the past, the city consider proposing work force and senior housing in the civic center, specifically for our teachers and first responders. Lets even include a few units for city employees.
In a phrase, housing would make the civic center civil. Indeed, if designed well, it could create the livable, viable sea coast village for which the city has always yearned.
Besides, it actually could reduce traffic on the PCH. Residential uses generate half of what commercial does, especially if they work locally.
It also would more than satisfy Malibu’s affordable housing element required by the State. Certainly it would please the Coastal Commission, and make it look more kindly on the city.
But most of all it is the right thing to do. We owe it to those who serve us.
The gift of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time labeled LA/LA continues, most recently for me at the Hammer Museum for an understated but powerful exhibit entitled “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960 -1985.
Both dense and fragmented, sweeping but also absorbingly specific, strong but also subtle, the artworks that include photography and video installations, is compelling, as I comment this week on public radio 97.5 KBU and select websites everywhere.
The exhibit is, I feel,a must –see for thinking and feeling women, and consciousness raising for men. If you can, try also to catch a related gallery talk or film.
And a welcome reminder: the Hammer is free, as I think all museums should be. And let me add must be, to counter the dumbing down of America coming out of Washington these depressing days.
For those too young to remember, or for women who don’t care to remember, the 1960 through the 80s was a challenging time for women almost everywhere, asserting their identity as the veil of the feminine mystique was being lifted,.
Or so I remember it in the public world of art world in the United States..
In Latin America it was a much, much tougher battle, for women, who suffered there under stifling harsh political and social conditions. This included a tradition of virulent machismo, repressive political regimes, and an unsympathetic, impervious predominate religion.
But as evidenced by the Hammer exhibit, these courageous women artists, most unknown, produced an impressive body of work. In particular, most absorbing to me were the films and video, that lend a sense of the raw presence.
On a completely different note for a different arts venue, I also want to plug the upcoming Dorrance Dance concert at the always engaging Wallis Cultural Center in Beverly Hills.
The Dorrance company is different indeed, extending the always entertaining but most times limited tap dance tradition into the present, more experimental street and club forms.
Because they are only at the Wallis for a few days, next Thursday through Saturday, the 12, 13th and 14th, a review at my scheduled times would not allow those interested time to make plans and get tickets.
And therefore I offer this advance plug, Hoping the performances are as exciting as they have been promoted.