By Jim Steinberg, San Bernardino County Sun, Calif. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
May 25--The City Shopping Center flourished in the 1970s and 1980s.
At its peak, in 1989, the mall generated $900,000 a year in sales tax revenue for the city of Orange.
It was a solid performer, generating tax revenue the city could count on.
When neighboring Santa Ana opened a mall, the retail powerhouse in Orange began to crumble, slowly at first, as an anchor left for the newer mall.
But over the next five years, another anchor abandoned the mall, as did a major tenant and the movie theater. Then the once-bustling mall was just small retailers. They went away, too, and the mall was boarded up.
Across Southern California and the nation, new shopping complexes are born while old ones die.
San Bernardino's Carousel Mall was born as the Central City Mall in the heyday of regional shopping centers in the 1970s.
Like a newly formed star, it caught people's attention. They filled its parking lots and made cash registers sizzle.
But the brightness would fade in the 1990s, even after management installed a merry-go-round and changed the name to Carousel Mall in 1991.
In 1999, a flagship anchor would leave. Then the movie theater, another anchor and major tenants would fade away, too.
In September, this darkening star will see its last anchor, J.C. Penney, leave.
"Regional malls have to reinvent themselves every 20 years,' said Charles Loggins, a professor of urban and regional planning at Cal Poly Pomona.
Just as a living creature develops new cells to replace old ones, malls must evolve, adapting to a constantly changing retail environment, he said.
The birth of malls "Regional malls are an …