Friday, 25 January 2008

Saturday Photo: Life Style Shopping Centres and the Canadian Winter

On one of the coldest days of the year I visited the new Dix30 "life style" shopping center in Brossard on the south shore of the St. Lawrence. The much-touted, supposedly new approach to the shopping experience features many big name, high quality shops built along a "main street." The idea is that you have the advantages of a shopping street with all the parking of a shopping mall.

The hallmark of this kind of development is its open air layout, we're told. Enclosed malls are passée. People are supposed to hang out on the street, enjoying the ambiance.

Well, maybe in better weather. Nobody was loitering outside the day I was there, although the parking places on the Esplanade were filled. Walking around, the most cheerful thing I saw was this gas flame set off to the side of a terrace. There was no plaque suggesting that it commemorated something special. Perhaps the idea is that the flames will warm the cockles of shoppers' hearts on winter days.

The developers behind this mall are also those who want to put in a $1.3 billion project in Griffintown, one of Montreal's old industrial neighborhoods. If they get the go-ahead, I hope they're a little more sensitive to the particularities of the place than they appear to have been here.

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