National Center for Sustainable Transportation

Transit-Oriented Development Opportunities Among Failing Malls

Project Number


Project Summary

This paper explores opportunities for the redevelopment of failing regional shopping malls as Transit-Oriented Developments (TODs) to improve transit ridership, focusing on Southern California. In effect, the study suggests an alternative to the typical sequence of first providing transit infrastructure and then changing land uses and densities to develop a TOD around new transit stations. Instead, the study suggests that failing shopping malls can provide the footprint for their redevelopment as TODs that could then be linked to transit lines. The study focuses on several major topics and reviews recent literature on the following steps in the argument for this policy:

1. The rationale for redeveloping declining malls as TODs, the supporting federal and California policies for TODs, and evidence for how different characteristics of TODs and their combination can reduce vehicle miles traveled, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions;

2. The issues that hinder the development of TODs around transit stations, e.g., difficulties in up-zoning, land assembly; loss of existing affordable housing;

3. Changes in retail, focusing on factors affecting the closing of shopping malls, e.g., the effect of Internet shopping on shopping malls, and the increasing failure of shopping malls; and

4. The potential and rationale for the redevelopment of failing regional malls into TODs.

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Topic Area


P.I. Name & Address

Research Professor, USC Price School of Public Policy
University of Southern California
650 Childs Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Funding source: US DOT

Total project cost: $15,000

Start and end dates: 9/1/2017 to 8/31/2018

Link to white paper: