Urban demographic stats point to the suburbs and exurbs growing while the central part of big cities are stagnant at best. This New Geography piece points to changes in the early 2010s continuing in that direction, contrary to urban planners' dreams of luring millennials and others into the urban core. Other than New York, not so much for the 2013-2014 timeframe.
Midland is far from a major urban area, but I'm seeing that dynamic play out of South Saginaw Road in Midland. That's our baby-boomer era business district just north of Dow Chemical skein of plants on the south side of town and just west of Dow's corporate HQ. The fast food restaurants and our K-Mart are still there, but other, more upscale businesses have deplanted and move on the north side of town by Midland Mall that went in about a quarter-century ago.
The Waldenbooks is now a pawn shop. The Sweet Onion (a nice-but-affordable restaurant) was town down and replaced by an auto-parts store. Ponderosa was turned into a CVS just recently, also knocking out the old Baskin-Robbins building that had turned into a Papa Johns as of late. The Chrysler dealership just north of the Dow complex relocated a few years ago to the north edge of the mall quadrant; the old site has yet to be repurposed.
As I was driving up Saginaw this morning, I did a double-take at the vacant lot that was Midland Ford, in the center of the South Saginaw district just south of Midland High. They had moved to the east edge of the mall quadrant, just down the street from the soccer complex marking the eastern edge of that area, late this summer. Once the move was made, they turned to tearing down the old building, which appears to have finished in the last week or so.
That evolution of towns isn't unique to Midland. When I was in Winter Haven, I recall being told of the older mall south of downtown getting torn down and replaced by free-standing big-boxers. Lexington's Turfland mall is awaiting that same fate, while Lexington Mall has been repurposed as a satellite site for a megachurch in town; an older mall in Lakeland had the same fate. Midland's old Circle Mall (too small to be a destination, as it turned out) got repurposed as the police station a quarter century ago.
The new (at least new to this older-timer) mall has brought a lot standard mall-quadrant stores and restaurants, giving a lot of new choices that we would have had to drive to Fashion Square Mall's quadrant in Saginaw to get in my younger years. However, seeing the South Saginaw area (rechristened "Center City" by our city fathers) deteriorate and degrade is a bit unnerving.