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A lifestyle center is a shopping center or mixed-used commercial development that combines the traditional retail functions of a shopping mall with leisure amenities oriented towards upscale consumers. Lifestyle centers, which were first labeled as such by Memphis developers Poag and McEwen in the late 1980s and emerged as a retailing trend in the late 1990s, are sometimes labeled "boutique malls". They are often located in affluent suburban areas. While modern-day lifestyle centers are fairly new, open-air malls have been around for decades. One such mall is Friendly Shopping Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. The open-air mall opened in 1957 and has adapted to the look and layout of today's modern-day lifestyle centers. An expanded section of Friendly Shopping Center called "The Shops at Friendly Center" includes upscale retail and restaurant establishments such as Brooks Brothers and PF Chang's.
The proliferation of lifestyle centers in the United States accelerated in the 2000s, with number going from 30 in 2002 to 120 at the end of 2004. Lifestyle centers are sometimes depicted as occupying the upscale end of the spectrum of commercial development, at the opposite end of the outlet mall, which typically caters to a wider range of income with bargain prices. The growth of lifestyle centers has occurred concurrently with an acceleration of the shutting down of traditional shopping malls, which typically require large sites over 70 acres (283,000 m²) at a time when land prices are escalating.[dubious ] Lifestyle centers usually require less land and generate higher revenue margins, often generating close to 500 dollars per square foot, compared to an average of 330 dollars per square foot for a traditional mall, according to the president of Poag and McEwen. Other advantages lifestyle centers have over traditional enclosed malls are savings on heating and cooling and quicker access for busy customers. Typical amenities at lifestyle centers include plush chairs instead of traditional plastic seating in common areas. Lifestyle centers typically look like strip shopping centers turned outside in, and the formal storefronts don't face parking areas like in strip centers, but landscaped park-like pedestrian areas, with storefronts facing each other across the pedestrian walkway or a low volume parkingless two-lane road. A two-lane road might go through the inside of the lifestyle center for drop offs and pickups, but no parking space is provided.