Lifestyle Centers: Reinvented Communities or Dressed-up Shopping Malls?
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose’s Santana Row covers 42 acres. Its dense, high-end retailing, residences, restaurants and offices create a city-within-a-city. The architecture – with urban row houses finished with earth tones and pastel stucco – overtly evokes Old Europe, and developers brought in antique metalwork, pottery and stone fountains to further instill a sense of history (one store even imported the façade of a nineteenth-century building from France). Meet the shopping mall’s hipper, New Urbanist cousin: the “lifestyle center.” The form is becoming more and more popular among developers and shoppers. But while lifestyle centers are promoted as a 21st century, community-oriented alternative to the soulless shopping mall, their purported Main Street “authenticity” is perhaps a new style of retail façade.