Whither the shopping mall?

That’s the question asked by the New York Times, which posits that as many as one in four malls in the U.S. could close entirely as the department store anchor-tenant model teeters.

According to industry researcher Deborah Weinswig, the article says, “the malls that are able to withstand the current turmoil will be healthier — better tenants, more inviting and occupied — but … about 25 percent of the country’s nearly 1,200 malls” could close entirely.

Real estate experts see opportunity in the closing and not just dread: malls can be reinvented, as housing, offices, local markets and other concepts. But they may not be the shopping centers that defined late-twentieth-century American culture.