Best Mall: University Village

“The shopping mall is dead, bricks-and-mortar retail is over, Amazon has killed the shopping mall.” So goes the conventional wisdom. Then you go to University Village, which is busier and more thriving than any other retail district in the city. Another new parking garage is being erected, and for good reason. Originally built on fill and refuse and dubbed “Dumpgate” after opening in 1956, U Village has steadily evolved from the old A&P, Ernst, and Kay’s Bookmark into a boutique-filled selection of retailers. The Apple Store and its rival Microsoft emporium speak to the tastes and affinities of north-end shoppers, as do retailers like Ann Taylor, Cole Haan, and The North Face. But what really impresses about the 24-acre site is the ebb and flow of shoppers on foot. Though most visitors drive there and park, they then spend hours walking among the restaurants and stores, and U Village gives them plenty of places to sit, park the kids, and use public restrooms. It’s been 20 years since Stuart Sloan and Matt Griffin bought the complex and began taking it upmarket, and it’s a market people clearly want to follow.

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