The Tidal Shift for American Malls

American malls aren’t having their brightest days right now -and the Triangle is no exception.

Cary Towne Center was sold to out-of-state investors, while the Triangle Town Center and Durham’s Northgate malls are facing financial trouble. Even Crabtree and Southpoint are mulling over exciting development plans that might make them look more like transit-oriented(ish) developments than isolated commercial hubs.

This is obviously a trend that’s been going on across the country. But when it comes to Raleigh, being the development haven (sorta) that it is, I started to wonder if it has more direct, long-lasting impacts for DTR…

Specifically, assuming those malls don’t just die out and leave behind a wasteland, could the opportunities presented by these struggling malls be a challenge/competition against downtown Raleigh?

I say this because there’s examples around the country of derelict malls that were successfully turned into more modern uses -pretty much the exact market Kane (and, really, DTR in general) has been taking advantage of. For all of y’all picture-lovers, here’s an example.

And here’s a whole article with more examples.

I don’t doubt these sorts of ambitious projects are good for the malls. But what does it mean for DTR? Does Raleigh need to do anything to stay ahead of this curve?

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I think that redeveloped malls can coexist with downtowns, including here in the Triangle. Even if a mall is redeveloped around transit, chances are that it’s still geographically constrained. It can only grow so much, and won’t necessarily be competing for the same type of development that a downtown Raleigh or Durham will be (e.g., large corporate expansions, residential high rises) so they can serve different purposes. In some ways they could even complement each other rather than compete.

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Cary Towne Center has been a lost cause for quite a few years. I think it needs to be completely redesigned as a mixed used center. Attached to the mall there should be a office building, hotel, and high rise apartments or condos). All with easy direct access to the mall. And the mall will still have shops but maybe should turn into more of an entertainment mall. Its a great location and there is plenty of room to build (would need parking decks).


It may be too late for CTC, but I have a feeling that once the big development across Cary Town Blvd is built, someone will swoop in and redevelop whatever is left of the mall at that time.

I used to live very close to Triangle Town Center, and the last time I went in there, you could practically hear the crickets. However, the area around the mall is doing pretty well with a mix of apartments, hotels, and Poyner Place is adding another building for retail. Once TTC finally closes its doors, I am sure someone will come in within a few years and break up the land and have a field day redeveloping the land. I used to think (looking at the mall from the parking deck at Poyner Place… The size of the mall and parking, is bigger than the whole “downtown” area of my home town. And most of that land is wasted on empty parking lots.


In the ADUs thread, there is a discussion about the potential of high-rise residential to fill the affordable housing gap. The TTC property and surrounding area would be a great choice for new mixed use development, including high-rise residential, supported by BRT.


Not backed by any numbers here but I welcome TTC becoming a “mini-city” kind of hub for Raleigh. With high-frequency BRT running from TTC to DTR, the Capital Blvd corridor becomes a prime place to invest and with so a large corridor, I want to guess that land prices would be lower compared to concentrated DTR.

It would make Raleigh pretty attractive compared to a BRT line which ends at a dead-end mall. With active centers at “bookend” I think the whole city benefits, density is added along a big area and may even take the pressure of neighborhoods that are gentrifying or being torn down in other parts of the city.


Can you imagine beige high rise apartments? :no_mouth:


I did the daily commute up and down Capital every day for several years. There is currently a study on how to deal with the whole corridor. There is so much traffic, and it is very hostile to pedestrians. This has been a concern of many for a long time. Plus all of the 1970s/1980s strip malls are at the end of their useful life spans.

How long would it take to extend the northern BRT all the way up to TTC? 20+ years?

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I’d love that to be a phase 2 kind of thing after the BRT has been up and running. If the BRT proves successful and the development community shows strong plans for redevelopment along Capital, I think it could be done.

I think even 20 years would be bold, at least from today. However, maybe a new transit tech in a city is like having a baby. They say the first is the hardest but the following ones are easier. :grin: :wink:


Yes they would probably look like the Residence Inn by Marriott downtown Raleigh…

One thing I didn’t really think about was the sheer number of malls. 5 malls for a population of 2 million? (And when they were built the population was significantly less).

I second the idea that CTC and TTC will become more TOD developments. I would be pretty shocked if the Cary side of 40 wasn’t full of high rises in 20-30 years. I also think the Capital Blvd BRT will eventually reach 540 on both the US-1 and US-401 routes.


TTC should be replaced by a rail-connected mix-use high density condominium and apartment mega-complex. Image a train station surrounded by large plaza or park and outlined by 20 to 50 10-to-35 story residential buildings. If NIMBY’s are so afraid to lose single family communities this is a perfect spot the 500,000 new Raleigh residents what will move-in in the next few decades.

This would help cement the northern route of a heavy rail commuter system.

It helps that TTC is only 1.2 miles away from the nearest rail line. So that will only require less than 2 miles of new rail to get it connected.


Five malls for 2 million people is actually pretty sparse! I went to college in Northeast PA, and by my count there were four major malls for a population of 700,000 and shrinking.

Sadly, downtown revitalization is only a tiny percentage of what is killing malls. Internet commerce, and the hollowing out of the middle class, are much bigger factors.

South Square is a typical example of what often replaces a dead mall: strip malls which are civically worse than the mall that was there before.

I would not be surprised if 10 years from now, Crabtree and Southpoint (and Tanger… if that counts) are the only indoor malls left in the Triangle.

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Huh. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. :rofl:

Traditionally, the whole eastern third of the state came to Raleigh to shop. We always shopped much larger than our population justified. Amazon changed that.

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Is it possible to try to proactively steer development in this direction? I’m wondering if the whole paranoia about ADUs and affordable housing could be shot down by having a sort of controlled experiment in sustainable development at TTC.


Agreed. Fortunately I think CTC and Northgate are probably destined for something better, given their age and locations. I’m not as confident about TTC.

TTC is an underrated mall in my opinion. I think a lot of people dismiss it due to the area its in, but its vacancy rate is relatively low and it has many of the same stores Crabtree has without the parking hassles. That’s not to say it doesn’t need some upgrades and more dense development around it (the outdoor portion is a ghost town, which is a shame), but it’s far from the type of dogs that CTC and Northgate are.


Looks like TTC defaulted on their loan

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