How to Convert Abandoned Malls Into Cooperative Ecosystems. It Could Work!

Developers are puzzling about the dead mall problem in the age of failed retail.  As more malls close,  these vacant behemoths become ripe for the picking.  Ready for food courts, large parking ramps, movie theatres, grocery stores and even spaces that useable as residential areas. These malls are gold mines for building intentional communities in urban environments.

The Problem:

Intentional communities are still relying on external forces to support there well-being. These external forces limit the effects of the solidarity economy and its  benefits to its members. In order for the solidarity economy to survive we must reduce these dependancies on external factors such as real estate, fuel and food cost. With the goal of wrriving at total independance. Abandoned malls seem to offer a lot of oppurtunity, ripe for the picking.

Give me a second, let me explain?

Residental Space:

Lincoln mall in matteson illinois had 225,000 square feet of leaseable space but triple that in actually square footage. Given that the kitchen and bathroom areas will be communal,  each member will only need about 150 square feet of sleeping area.  Having enough space for over 1300 rooms. At a rate of $400 a room. thats $520,000 a month in revenue.


Because electricity, gas, water and waste will be centralized, implementing and energy efficent system is fairly simple. Electricity can be powered by solar, while hot water can supplied by solar water heaters and supplemented from biogas heaters supplied by biodigestors. The input to the biodigester is food waste of the 1300 bodies and the output is methane.  Which could be used as as gas source. Many malls are already designed to be well lit by natural light but supplemental LED’s will be benefitial with low energy use.  According to this post one mall paid $20,000-$40,000 a month in electricity bills. Thats only $40/Month per tenant or $52,000 a month.  Bringing revenues totals to  $552,000 a month.


1300 people doing entirely all their shopping at one single grocery store is definitely enough to sustain a store. The average person spends $300 per month on groceries. thats a whopping  $390,000 a month in revenues.  Bringing  totally revenues to $942,000 USD monthly. This isn’t considering that we can grow our own food to supply stables to the grocery store. Many malls have grocery stores attached and wiring and plumping  already in place.

Communal Kitchen

Mall food courts could be converted in communal kitchens. Piping existing to support the fuel and electrical needs.  Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner could be offered.


The closed movie theatre can double as a music venue, event space, play house, movie theatre or whatever is needed.


Residents will still be employed outside the space but the income made outside the space is expended inside that. Therefore, making the space economically sound and wealthier every month.


Because 1300 people are leaving and returning to one area every day, carpools and bus services are easy to organize.


Dead malls are cheap! The fully functional 800,000 (leaseable space) Hudson Valley mall sold for 9 million dollars. We can purchase a similar space, add 3 million for renovations and used the 1300 projected tenants as labor to build out space,  That’s just USD 14 million. This is not a feasibility study just random numbers using data I found online for showcase purposes.

Revenues: $942,000 USD (Rent, energy, grocery store)

Liabilities: $200,000 ( mortgage  (70k on 15 mil) utilities (30k) Food Stock (100k)

Surplus:  $742,000/Month

What will we do with the surplus?

Enrich the lives of our members and fund solidarity economy projects.

Now whos ready?