What’s really happening at Mayfair

Mayfair Mall is having demographic trouble. While General Growth Properties has done a great job of bringing in restaurants and top retailers, they failed to anticipate the shift in the area’s other malls and demographic changes overall.

First, let’s review the area malls. There’s Mayfair and Brookfield Square in the western suburbs. There’s Southridge to the south. Bayshore Town Center is in the near north suburb of Glendale. The Shops of Grand Avenue are downtown.

There used to be a Northridge, but it died. There used to be a Capitol Court, but it died too. Both were in northwest Milwaukee.

A complete discussion needs to include Pabst Farms. The mall’s sizzle fizzled in 2008 even before the big downturn. I’ve not heard anyone speculate the trouble in the suburban ring malls like Mayfair is going to save the Pabst Farm plan. I think it’s going to take twenty years or so for that to happen. Pabst Farms is located in the far west suburb of Oconomowoc.

Bayshore at I-43 just north of Silver Spring Road went through a significant renovation a few years ago. They scored a Trader Joes, a mecca of young urban delights, and also designed the upgrade to provide a town center atmosphere, meaning no indoor communal roaming space.

Interpret that as no loitering in the winter. While both Bayshore and Mayfair are on public transportation routes, one has warm common spaces on 10 degree days, and one does not. I think that fact alone is what’s saving Bayshore from being a significant teen gathering place during the recent winter school break. It’s not as much fun to roam the mall when you see can see your breath.

Bayshore also has a strict code of conduct in addition to their age restriction policy. They state they ban gatherings in groups of more than four. Mayfair Mall does not.

Mayfair and Bayshore both have a movie house. Southridge in Greendale plans to add one. Brookfield Square and Grand Avenue do not. (Not that I could find, anyway.) I’ve heard some argue the movie theater is the problem for Mayfair, but if it is for Mayfair, why not Bayshore? And why would Southridge be planning to add one?

Parking is another interesting point to consider. An article a few days ago in the MJS mentioned that kids started unloading from cars about 3:30 p.m. (I would love to link that article, but it looks like that statement didn’t stay around to the print version. Frustrating!) Parking is free at Mayfair as well as other malls. There is a charge for parking at Grand Avenue if you spend more than three hours.

So, Mayfair’s the perfect hang spot. Their code of conduct is more lenient than Bayshore. Mayfair is also warmer than Bayshore. Unlike Grand Avenue, parking is free for an afternoon of roaming. And yes, if you’re so inclined, you can even see a movie. Change one or two of these and you’ll force change. The easiest? Change and enforce the code of conduct.

Do I worry about Brookfield Square if Mayfair tightens up? Yes, frankly, I do. Only one of my three ever managed any mall time, and at that it was only for a few weeks that there was the desire. I think Brookfield Square would have swift and sure response from the community and the government if they needed support for clamping down on mall conduct. This is where I’ll add Wauwatosa seems to be dragging their feet. The decision to not release any information from the police department after the event on Sunday was not a good one in my opinion.

We need to discuss changing demographics in general, but I kind of have a few things I should get done today, so it’s going to wait. Please let me know if you have any other ideas pertaining to the above.


  1. The Lorax says:

    The movie theater at Bayshore is not for children–it’s a 21 plus place that serves lots of alcohol. That’s a big difference, for one.

    Not to mention Bayshore has had problems with their food court. One thing you leave out is that Bayshore caters to more high-end clientele. There really is no fast food, no low-end clothing stores, etc.

  2. Yeah, I mean other than the Applebee’s, Autie Anne’s, BW3, Chocolate Factory, Five Guys, Panda Express, Potbelly’s, Qdoba, Rocky’s, and Subway, pretty much all the food at Bayshore is upscale. 🙂

  3. The Lorax says:

    I didn’t say it was upscale, I said it wasn’t fast food. No McDonald’s, or Burger King.

  4. BrkfldDad says:

    As someone who frequents both Bayshore and Mayfair regularly, I have to say that neither shopping center feels ‘unsafe’ to me, even with the acts perpetrated this past weekend, and neither is really that much different in my mind. I don’ t buy the low end store and fast food arguments. The store demographics are not that much different, and neither are the food options. If Auntie Annes, Five Guys, Panda Express, PotBelly’s, Qdoba, Rocky’s and Subway are not fast food, I don’t know what is. The 21 and older movie theater is a non-starter in this argument, that’s only after 7pm at Bayshore, this particular incident happened at 5:45pm on a Sunday, so it could’ve happened at either place if it were the ‘movie crowd’. I don’t know that parking is that much of an issue either. At GA you have to spend money before it’s free. I don’t think many of these kids are spending money, nor are the majority driving.

    The fundamental differences, are the size of the common/heated space and transportation (imho). Bayshore’s common space is bigger than you think, and many of the ‘low-end’ stores are in that space, along with the food court. Mayfair’s is much larger, and once inside, you never have to go outside. But more importantly, Mayfair is a straight bus line shot from the east end of North Ave all the way to the mall. Bayshore’s direct connect starts at Keefe and Atkinson, all other points need 1-2 transfers to get there. So, all in all, it’s less of a hassle to get to Mayfair. I think that’s huge.

    To be honest however, when I have felt most uncomfortable at either mall (which is rare), it’s been when I was outdoors at Bayshore. There’s something about the ‘closed-in’, lots of people around, at Mayfair that makes it more comfortable for me. At Bayshore, the feeling that if someone were to accost you they could scatter into the open spaces with minimal notice really sets the tone for me.

  5. Good post BrkfldDad. I agree on all points, especially that the North Ave. bus line issue is probably among the most important differences between Mayfair and Bayshore.

  6. until about 1985, or so, brookfield square had a movie theatre adjacent to sears which closed/the theatre. for me it was a big loss as i love movies and caused me to go to mayfair more often. for a male its a reward after shopping (ha). as municipal judge i handled many cases that took place at brookfield square. maybe our police were more involved. dont know much about tosa law enforcement, but that would be a start. of course the taxpayers pay for that protection. i have been in much much larger malls around the country and mayfair is no different. there are municipal laws that apply, i.e., trespassing, loitering, noise ordinances, retail theft, disorderly conduct and more that brookfield city uses. tosa can do the same. more than shoppers go to malls (walkers, seniors, juveniles, window shoppers,etc.). why not. its warm in the winter and cool in the summer. what a deal !

  7. The Lorax says:

    Nice synthesis, B-dad. You’re right.

  8. the news reports are skimpy. unless i missed it there is no response time report by the local PD. with all those 911 calls. it looks like the downtown business people would like mayfair mall to fold. it won’t happen. reason: good venues. one suggestion. lock the side and back entrances in a timely manner. us wisconsin people can handle that better than getting into public buildings. question: why does mayfair mall have to provide law enforcement type security without legal authority to act ? folks, its all about taxes and local government. brookfield city responds promptly to brookfield square. its in the budget.