I had errands to run this morning so I decided to walk through the shopping center instead of driving.
Charlotte, is a large city, both in area and population. it’s sprawling- it can take more than an hour to drive from one end of the city to the other.
While Charlotte, and the immediate area, does have 4 traditional style shopping malls it also has these huge shopping centers that take on a community feel.
The one that I was at today is called The Arboretum- it’s in south Charlotte in a very affluent area- but it’s not ..posh. It’s mostly new money, you won’t find gourmet food stores or designer stores here- just their slightly cheaper cousins- Talbots and The Walking Company? For sure.
I’ve always thought these sweeping shopping centers were unique for a couple reasons. One, is that this shopping center does take on a cultural symbol for the people who live in the area. This area of Charlotte is called Arboretum, not just the shopping center, and it’s like that for other shopping centers as well. The Arboretum (the shopping center) has annual events, like breakfast with Santa, an Easter egg hunt, a Halloween carnival, back to school jamboree, etc. They also host other events like food truck fridays and symphony concerts during the summer.
You would think, sure, just trying to get people to come shop? But a lot of these things happen when stores are closed or the stores close just for them.
Its also interesting to me that these shopping centers were not designed to be mixed use of any sort. There are not offices or apartments on top. There is not green space, other than trees, built in. These events happen in the parking lot and sidewalks instead of a lush park or community center. But there are so many trees! Charlotte prides itself on its tree cover and there are countless initiatives to protect trees, appreciate them or plant them. It looks like they wanted this shopping center to appear insure- it has everything you need! Except a place to live or work or have fun or go to school? There are just stores, restaurants, and some services like a nail salon and tanning place, but no doctors offices or firms or anything non-retail.