I’ve written about converting at least one closed church into a Beta Culture Nexus in every large city in America. But I have this slightly different idea for … well, think about this:
Look at this article about abandoned malls across the U.S.: Completely Surreal Photos of America’s Abandoned Malls.
Say you acquired an abandoned mall at a fire-sale price.
You turn most of the shops inside into dwelling units, nice condos, plus maybe a small hotel. You could adapt an out-of-the-way part of it into commercial mini-storage or vehicle storage. Keep a small part of the parking lot (or all of the parking garage) for tenants. The remainder of the parking lot, you sell off most of it as prime commercial property, but keep several acres around the main building for a park and gardens.
Meanwhile, you rip out the escalators and replace them with stairs to save on energy. Tear open the roof and fill it with natural-light skylights, adding solar panels and huge water reservoirs in remaining areas for backup energy and water. Reserve one rooftop area as an open-air lounge for enjoying sunsets and the night sky. Fill the promenades with planters and ponds and water fountains, comfortable benches and tables for mingling and relaxing — plus bike, golf cart or even skateboard lanes for people traveling the interior.
Build an indoor gym, library, tech center, full-coverage wi-fi, art studio, child care center, senior center, meeting/convention and performance venue (what used to be the multi-cinema), and reopen the food court for tenants. Add offices for residents who telecommute.
THEN declare the entire place, or as much of it as possible, a church or religious order.
Which, you know, as a Beta Culture project, it WOULD be.