Mr. Hull said he expected to make malls more "community-based" in smaller markets, with local and regional businesses. "There will be cooking classes, stores, internet businesses that will have a physical presence, health care, food choices," he said.
In Cupertino, California, where Apple is headquartered, the fate of the shuttered Vallco Shopping Mall has become a contentious issue, with passionate public debates surrounding replacing it with affordable housing, new entertainment and retail options or office space.
Meanwhile, there is a partially torn eye, according to Rod Sinks, a member of the Cupertino City Council. "We have a chain link fence around it all," he said.
Still, some investors have been buying middle malls in recent years, and have already been working on how to reuse and switch spaces – even "de-malling" malls, by flipping store entrances to face the street.
"We haven't bought malls since 2014 and thought JC Penney or Sears or Bon-Ton would be in business forever and run department stores, and if you were, shame on you," said Ami Ziff, director of national retail in Time Equities, a real estate company that has eight closed investment centers. "Will there be more distress, vacancy and bankruptcy? Yes. Hopefully you know what you're doing so you can pick up the pieces to fill that space again."  Contact Sapna Maheshwari at firstname.lastname@example.org.