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Simon Property Group Fights to Reinvent the Shopping Mall

by Phil Wahba, Fortune.com

· News,Press

With department stores in sharp decline, Simon is overhauling its empire to keep consumers coming back.

The Roosevelt Field shopping complex was built 60 years ago, in Garden City, N.Y., on the former Long Island airstrip where Charles Lindbergh took off on his historic transatlantic flight. But when you walk in, it doesn’t take long to realize this isn’t your mother’s mall—or even your own high school mall.

When you enter by the Nordstrom JWN 0.82% , your attention is drawn not to one of those smudgy, indecipherable “You Are Here” map directories, but to sleek screens whose messages nudge you to shop the mall’s trendier fashion brands. Those same screens pepper you with reminders about an app-based loyalty program, which could help you snag the most coveted item on any shopper’s list—a premium reserved-parking spot.

As you pass leather couches flanked by charging stations for cell phones, you’ll see the refurbished food court—sorry, make that “dining district”—with eateries that eschew plastic plates and utensils for actual silverware, and furniture that says hipster bistro rather than cafeteria remainder sale. Roosevelt Field has significantly expanded its full-service, sit-down restaurant offerings as part of a $300 million overhaul. And throughout the mall, tasteful signage steers you to the new luxury wing, opened in February 2016 and anchored by (and named for) a state-of-the- art Neiman Marcus store.

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