A large stock of old buildings and innovative uses: Building Character in Lancaster, PA
Is one of Jane Jacobs four basic precepts:
1. the need for primary mixed uses;
2. the need for small blocks;
3. the need for aged buildings;
4. the need for concentration;
for successful and therefore "Great American Cities."
One of the factors that makes doing "creative" or innovative "urban" revitalization projects difficult in DC is the fact that as an office, not an industrial, city, for the most part the city doesn't have a large stock of old big buildings to work with, the kinds of buildings that in places like Brooklyn, Manhattan, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Philadelphia, or even York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania and other once industrial towns have in abundance.
Antique malls are a form of supporting retail entrepreneurship for proprietors who may not be able to be successful at running a store of their own and they are a good way to "absorb" and bring back large old buildings that may otherwise be too hard to reuse, at least in the intermediate term, as a single use. There are a bunch of such buildings serving as antique malls in Downtown Frederick Maryland for example, activating what would otherwise be big forlorn places.
There aren't many examples of non-antique "sub-store" operations (I hate to call them "malls") that I am familiar with, but one that I like is Building Character in Lancaster, PA.
It's partly a sales gallery for architectural salvage, but there is also spaces filled out with various boutique operations, ranging from someone who sells cards, bags and other items promoting Lancaster neighborhoods to incredibly well curated used clothing stores for men and women and a home store where we knew we could buy some bird houses made of gourds, and is why we went to the store in the first place.
This kind of operation does a few things, all good.