Woman Resides In America's Oldest Mall After 48 Abandoned Shops Are Turned Into Homes

The changing face of retail shopping means that the malls that proliferated in the 1960s through 1980s are increasingly shutting their doors. In Providence, Rhode Island, The Arcade is a mall built in the 1800s. It is America's oldest continuously operating shopping mall. Retailers kept leaving the facility, so it was turned into homes for people to live in.

The sheer size of malls and their parking lots makes them difficult to turn into other types of facilities. In some communities, the abandoned malls go derelict. In other places, developers are getting creative about making the most out of these spaces that used to be bustling.


Over the years, The Arcade building has had a lot of facelifts and repurposing of its space, but its second and third levels were bereft of stores for a while. Its owner paired with a development agency to keep retail space on the first level, add a community room, and create tiny apartments on the second and third levels.

The Arcade is technically a rooming house. This means that the apartments do not have ovens or ranges, but they can have miniature refrigerators and small microwave ovens. The apartments range in size from 225 to 600 square feet, which is big enough for one or two people, reports CBS News.

The residents can put a small washer and dryer in their units or do their laundry in the community area. These apartments are ideal for people who travel or people who enjoy a minimalist lifestyle and do not want the hassles of maintaining a home and a yard.

The residents of The Arcade like their community. They get to live in a convenient downtown place with affordable rent. The residential areas are secured, and access is only allowed with a specialty key fob.

The apartments feature built-in furniture, so people do not have to spend a lot of money outfitting their new space. For anyone who wants to downsize but enjoys socializing, this is an ideal solution.

What do you think about how the developers turned this partially abandoned mall into a mixed-use space? Would you want to live above a mall or in a converted shopping mall? Would this type of lifestyle work for you? Let us know your thoughts!