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Traditional malls are struggling in Charlotte, and Northlake's troubles are just the latest example

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Mike Kalasnik
Charlotte's Northlake Mall is seen in 2012. Traffic has slowed down at it and other malls in the region in recent years.

It's been a really tough decade for malls in Charlotte, starting with the demolition of Eastland in 2013. And there have been 11 reported shootings at Charlotte area malls since 2019, including three over the past three months at Northlake Mall. After the last shooting there a week ago Wednesday, Apple abruptly closed its Northlake store. On top of that, major department store anchors are struggling, with some locations closing and leaving malls conspicuously empty spaces. WFAE reporter Kenneth Lee visited Northlake one afternoon early this week.

Few shoppers were around and the sound of construction in the recently closed Apple Store could be heard. Several shoppers said they don't feel as safe in the mall these days because of the recent shootings. Alexis Toland's suggestion for security: "Probably metal detectors. I know in D.C. and in Atlanta they have at certain entrances people checking bags and stuff like security.  So that makes me feel more safe."

But while safety is a major concern, it's far from the only thing driving the decline of malls. Chuck McShane, director of market analytics for the Carolinas for CoStar, a commercial real estate data analytics company, talks about the bigger picture for local malls. Listen to hear more about:

  • Why smaller neighborhood shopping centers, those that are closer to where people live and have mixed uses and other activities, are faring better than enclosed malls.
  • What sets SouthPark mall apart from struggling centers like Carolina Place and Northlake Mall, and how those struggling malls might break out of their downward spiral.
  • What's driving retailers to want smaller spaces than they did two decades ago, when Northlake Mall was built.
What's wrong with malls today?
Real estate expert Chuck McShane talks about what's ailing malls in Charlotte, and how they might be able to break out of the downward spiral.
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Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.