Malls Across America

Asheville, like many cities in America, was experiencing the nationwide push for major transformations of the downtown area. Molly Sager discusses in her thesis about the downtown mall project that, “The shift began shortly after World War II as Americans emerged from the darkness of the Great Depression, and a world war that reenergized manufacturing, putting money back into their pockets. Soldiers returning from war married and started families. These families needed places to live and the rush to the suburbs was on.”[ref]Molly Sager, “The Mall That Almost Ate Asheville: The Fight between City Hall and Save Downtown Asheville Inc. Over the Strouse, Greenberg & Company Downtown Commercial Complex” (Undergraduate Thesis, University of North Carolina at Asheville, 2012), 2-3.[/ref] With the large influx of people to suburban areas, the existing downtown areas were not sufficient areas of entertainment and shopping and the downtown mall became the answer. The idea of the downtown mall was also aided by the change in the U.S. tax policy in 1954 which was, “a tax law allowing for ‘accelerated depreciation’ designed to stimulate the economy and encourage building. The new tax law allowed investors in commercial ventures essentially to shift tax deduction to the “first years of a project’s life.” The tax shelter allowed investors to claim, ‘losses for several years while enjoying tax free income, then sell the project for more than they had originally invested.’ Developers and investors could thus turn a profit in a short timeframe.”[ref]Molly Sager, “The Mall That Almost Ate Asheville,” 4.[/ref] The tax law was only available for newly constructed buildings, so the new malls were booming.


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