Apartments, some fashioned after New Orleans' French Quarter, co-existed with specialty shops, restaurants and offices. The concept is the hallmark of "New Urbanism", a style that abandons covered malls, Muzak and parking lots in favor of traditional streetscapes, parking meters and pedestrians.
The project, developed by Bill Bonner and opened in 1972, mimicked a European village, with apartments above storefronts - a toy shop, an art studio, candle shop and other one-of-a-kind retailers. Unlike enclosed malls, spaces were linked with outdoor sidewalks wide enough for crowds but not cars. The only mall-like space was the adjacent French Market. But unlike those that would follow, there was no McDonald's, only locally owned shops selling baked goods, fresh produce, sandwiches and gourmet items that lured the tour-bus set. There were no anchors, such as large department stores that attracted regular shoppers. A doughnut-shaped parking lot encircled the complex, meaning most shops were not visible from the street.
The mall was extremely popular in the 1980s, but it declined in the late 1990s. In 2001, The Continent is still in use, with a few shops and restaurants, several vacant storefronts and 618 apartments.
Keywords: United States, Ohio, Franklin County, Columbus, Continent Mall, shopping malls, outdoor spaces, complexes, residential structures, housing, mixed-use development. Submitted by Hazel Morrow-Jones.