15 Ways to Reinvent American Malls

1. Find or create multi-brand stores, not just all the predictable brands slapping their names on their usual concepts

2. Secure made-for-the-neighborhood exclusives from brands that have stores elsewhere in a given city

3. Introduce small-format concepts from chains that don't already have a local presence (in the case of Manhattan, companies like IKEA or Nordstrom)

4.  Build new food concepts from around the world (think: Asian department store food halls, a European marché, some of the unique chains popularized by Australian food courts, or even the type of stalls at The Grove in LA)

5. Recruit the first U.S. outposts of international retail chain stores (again, see Australia, and also Asia)

6. Be a destination for brands that want to test the brick-and-mortar waters with pop-ups or their first stores; Soho need not maintain its monopoly

7. Offer local essentials, reinvented (e.g., give Lower Manhattan a hardware store that’s not decades-old and office supplies made for the millennials who work at nearby WeWork locations)

8. Create an overall space that's a draw in itself (the best I’ve seen globally is Bikini Berlin)

9. Break ground on universal checkout (while it would be impractical to take merchandise from around the mall and physically bring it to one place, shoppers should be able to walk around with a scanner and have the desired merchandise collected or sent home (a la what Crate & Barrel does with their registry and The Container Store enables for delivery)

10. Develop a web site that allows shoppers to see what's available throughout the mall by aggregating all the buy-online-pickup-in-store and reserve-in-store functionality each retailer has

11. Bring in stores that are showrooms and have events calendars (e.g., PIRCH, Lincoln auto)

12. Establish ferry routes to bring in visitors (in the case of Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, a boat ride beats bridge traffic or a slow subway - especially once the L train goes down; water commutes need not be limited to IKEA in Red Hook, Brooklyn)

13. Fill in with everyday essentials with an edge (such as a limited-branch boutique fitness solution like Peloton Cycle, preschool or daycare with a twist, a blow-dry bar, etc.)

14. Make sure to work in "stores as media", underwritten to make the editorial possible (see Story, which I’ve been talking up for years)

15. Refine operations with data by tracking where in the mall visitors are spending time

The Howard Hughes Corporation is re-developing the Seaport District NYC. I've been visiting this neighborhood for ~30 years and now I live nearby. As a resident and a retail devotee, I hope to see all of the above. But these ideas are applicable not just for South Street Seaport, but for malls and retail developers everywhere.