(WFSB) – It’s no secret that the American mall is suffering.
In Connecticut, there are many with empty storefronts, but there could be some new hope for malls.
Over the border in Rhode Island, one mall is changing the game by turning some of the space into apartments.
Shopping at malls is something that has been declining in recent years due to online shopping, but now, since the pandemic, people are shopping online even more and avoiding malls to promote social distancing.
The idea of building apartments within malls may be the thing that could save a dying industry.
MicroLoft Living at the Arcade Providence Mall in Rhode Island is the up and coming place to live.
Maria Antanova moved there from Voluntown, CT while she studies at Johnson and Wales University. For 250 square feet and $900 a month for rent, she says it’s a bargain and all she needs.
“I love my little space. I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Antanova said.
Channel 3 was able to get a mini tour of her micro space.
“Here is like a kitchen, I have my dishwasher, I have my fridge. There is some space for pots and pans, and I also have the microwave and you know, this is my setting,” Antanova said. “This is my bathroom here. What I like about it is I don’t need a shower curtain because it’s a shower cabin.”
The unit is similar to a cruise ship cabin with furniture built in to maximize space.
“I got my blankets and clothes, it’s kind of a mess, but you can see it’s big. You can put whatever you want in here too,” Antanova said.
If you’re willing to spend a little bit more, there is a 320 square foot unit for $950 a month, which has a Murphy pull down bed, so two people can live there.
“I like it. I think the access to some of the restaurants and businesses on the first floor is great,” said Max Seppo, a resident at The Arcade Providence.
Convenience is the trade off for space Seppo says, who also lives in one of the units.
Real estate developer Evan Granoff owns the mall and he converted the top two floors to apartment sin 2013.
“A lot of the trends that started to happen at that time, where retail was dying, had already been taking place in here for a while,” Granoff said.
The arcade is a beauty of a structure with a skylight ceiling that floods the mall and apartments with natural light.
“This building was built in 1828. It’s the oldest indoor shopping mall still in existence in the country,” Granoff said.
Granoff says he’s proud a creative business model was able to save a national landmark.
“And I joke that they are going to put my gravestone that I made that arcade economically viable,” Granoff said.
Minimalist living to maximize the life of the American mall by reimagining a second life where less is more.