For years, every Saturday evening in Susan Iocono’s family was the same.
First came 4 p.m. Mass at Immaculate Conception in Weymouth, then dinner at York Steak House and, finally, a shopping trip to the Hanover Mall. Things were different back then, Iocono said. Church was how she met people. Dad still smoked. And going to the mall was something everyone looked forward to.
“I can still see my dad sitting with the cigar, on the fountain, watching the people go by,” Iocono said. “People don’t have those types of memories anymore.”
And it’s little wonder why.
Throughout the country, many of the shopping malls that once stood as the pinnacle of American consumerism are dying. Some have been closed for good as big retailers pull out and consumers increasingly choose to do their shopping from behind a computer or phone screen.
Some malls, though, are getting a second chance. In a bid to coax American shoppers back into the real world, developers are increasingly turning to what they call “lifestyle centers” — open-air mashups of shopping, entertainment, dining and sometimes housing that many say is the key to winning back the customers malls have lost.
Several popular lifestyle centers already exist nearby: think Derby Street Shoppes in Hingham, Colony Place in Plymouth and Legacy Place in Dedham. Hanover is next in line for this transition, as the mall, once the largest of its type in the region, will give way to a mixed-use development called Hanover Crossing.