Cortana closes mallwalking…and then closes altogether.

As I work on a longer, more photo-saturated post, I have to get a little snippet in because of some news that a reader recently sent me. The Cortana Mall (or the Mall at Cortana) in Baton Rouge recently closed. The only functional portion left is a Dillard’s Clearance Center, which, though physically connected to

Sears at Castleton closes: no longer a crisis; merely an opportunity.

My lasted post just went up at Urban Indy.  It focuses on the announced closure of the Sears at Castleton Square Mall, the largest mall in the Indianapolis metro, second largest mall in the state, and, together with all the outparcel space, probably the largest retail/commercial hub in the state.  This leaves only one Sears

The stick-built home isn’t always the flimsiest.

Cliché though it may be, the world offers plenty of evidence that “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Travel through the most rugged parts of West Virginia, and it’s easy to find a small burg nestled in the valley between uncompromising hills. Human settlements stretch far north of the Arctic Circle, with Inuit populations

Palm tree pandemics: even in the Big Easy, winter can be a little difficult.

Many years ago I wrote an article exploring how trees of the palm family are widespread throughout southern Louisiana (specifically the New Orleans region), though they are not indigenous. In other words, they grow there quite easily but it is not their native habitat. If anything, the presence of palms in the southern US—or at

A hydrant below sea level: raising the stakes for mitigating property loss.

A bizarre piece of infrastructure like this will inevitably captivate a few more curiosity seekers than yours truly. As a Google Images search would prove, I’m not the first to snap a pic of something like this. Still, a fire hydrant elevated about 18 inches off the ground is hardly a typical sight even in

The ramp without a purpose: handicapped design swings and misses.

Public accommodations for persons with disabilities have expanded so significantly in recent years that the juxtaposition of a staircase and a ramp scarcely raises an eyebrow. We see it all the time. And that’s perfectly normal: after all, it’s been the law since 1990.  But how are we supposed to respond when we see handicapped

Not a fork in the road as much as a spoon.

While it’s easy to derisively brand American suburbia as homogenous and essentially unchanging since it emerged as the preferred settlement pattern for the majority of Americans fifty years ago, we hardly need an intense study to see how much they’ve evolved since the postwar housing boom that began in the late 1940s.  In fact, this

Streetscapes get a much-unneeded boost.

In recent years, communities large and small have sought new approaches to restore the vitality of their historic business districts.  By this point, virtually everyone can think of a municipality with an old downtown that really does feel like it’s the center of it all: fully occupied buildings, people milling about.  The success stories exist. 

Big boxes: keeping all the ducks in a row.

I have chronicled the tireless migration of retail across metropolitan landscapes several times in the past; it formed the central topic of one of my earliest blog posts.  Unfortunately, most of my posts have focused on the blight left by outdated retail typologies: the dead malls, pockmarked parking lots, blighted strip malls, or (at the

Nostalgic for the future.

These days it’s hard not to ponder some of the decisions property owners were making to downtowns at the dawn of widespread suburbanization that took place in the 1950s.  The small southern Louisiana city of Thibodaux (population 14,500) has a solid regional university (Nicholls State) a mile to the west of a fairly well-preserved historic

The stick-built home isn’t always the flimsiest.

Cliché though it may be, the world offers plenty of evidence that “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Travel through the most rugged parts of West Virginia, and it’s easy to find

Not a fork in the road as much as a spoon.

While it’s easy to derisively brand American suburbia as homogenous and essentially unchanging since it emerged as the preferred settlement pattern for the majority of Americans fifty years ago, we hardly need an

Streetscapes get a much-unneeded boost.

In recent years, communities large and small have sought new approaches to restore the vitality of their historic business districts.  By this point, virtually everyone can think of a municipality with an old

Big boxes: keeping all the ducks in a row.

I have chronicled the tireless migration of retail across metropolitan landscapes several times in the past; it formed the central topic of one of my earliest blog posts.  Unfortunately, most of my posts

Nostalgic for the future.

These days it’s hard not to ponder some of the decisions property owners were making to downtowns at the dawn of widespread suburbanization that took place in the 1950s.  The small southern Louisiana