Flagship shopping centres
Retail forms the heart of towns and cities in the UK and many other countries – and the health of cities is critical to that of their regions (e.g. Birch 2002; BURA 2002; Lowe and Wrigley 2000). However, modern developments challenge the role of downtowns as community hubs. In many countries, wealthier people and their associated retail facilities have moved away. Many downtown areas suffer physical, economic and social decline (e.g. Ford 1994 (US); Guy and Ducket 2003 (UK); Hankins, 2002 (US); O’Callaghan and O’Riordan 2003 (Ireland)). In the UK, the number of independent retail stores has declined by 40 per cent in a decade (Lang and Rayner 2001). Various strategies such as government subsidies for industry or housing, or commercial retail development have been suggested and tried to regenerate areas (Gopal 2003). For example, Staeheli and Mitchell (2006) reported on the DestiNY mall at Syracuse in upstate New York, which they found has become a de facto urban centre in an otherwise deprived area. In this context, the word ‘flagship’ is used in its sense of a leader for others to follow. This chapter investigates the role of the planned shopping mall as a flagship destination that can help in regenerating downtowns or act as magnets for growth in outof-town locations. The introductory section briefly considers the background to shopping centres followed by what makes shopping malls attractive. The next section considers the retail landscape and hierarchy using Central Place Theory – or rather, a pragmatic and practical application of the principles. Evidence for the flagship or magnet effect of shopping malls is presented using this framework. Finally, a section on flagship shopping malls and regeneration speculates on the ability of shopping malls to contribute towards attracting other businesses, tourists and residents.