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by Joan Verdon

North Jersey’s malls were created in the era of “build it and the shoppers will come.” Today, in the age of “why should I go there,” the shopping centers are using design makeovers as a way to lure customers.

The old-style malls were concrete boxes, with plain, flat exteriors, and all of the design features saved for the interiors. Now, architects and mall owners are trying to open up those enclosed boxes, with skylights, glass walls and higher store facades to give indoor spaces an outdoor feel.

A big part of what’s driving this design trend has been the striking success in recent years of the new open-air retail projects designed to mimic big-city shopping districts, but with suburban amenities such as parking decks and Cheesecake Factory restaurants.

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