Outside of Chuck E. Cheese, few things are as vomit-inducing in the suburbs as "New Urbanist" developments. They're built by well-known architects and praised by James Kunstler-type critics and academics, none of whom ever have to shop or live there.
Rather than holding award ceremonies, the American Institute of Architects should actually visit the areas around these New Suburban outdoor malls. In the DC area, we have the heavily-praised Reston Town Center. It's got apartments and offices and is not enclosed, so it makes distant academics happy because people can live close to their jobs and walk outside. Yet in this "Town Center", there is a multiplex showing chick flicks, car chase movies, and standard mass market Hollywood crap, as well as a Panera Bread, a Starbucks, and some chain restaurants. Its nightlife begins with guys going to the chain restaurant bars to talk about their jobs, which is followed up by fake ID-less teeny boppers congregating around the entrances to these bars, all under the watchful eye of some mall cops.
Go 1 mile from the "Town Center" and you come to a K-Mart strip mall with a large surface parking lot, the kind you usually see in the "before" picture in an urban planning book. If you want something to eat in this place, you can choose from Indian, Afghan, Central American, and something other than the tasteless grilled chicken sandwiches available throughout Reston Town Center. Moreover, these K-Mart center dives are locally owned, and their menus are inspired by the owners' lives in their native countries, not by a marketing department in a corporate office park.
While the academic-urban planner-critic circle jerk can't stop hyping Seaside, Reston, Kentlands, and other generic nonsense, a sidewalk or an apartment over a store is not enough to make a place worth visiting twice. Meanwhile, not much is written about where locally-owned shops and restaurants actually are, because the AIA is not going to start handing out awards to a K-Mart anchored strip mall with an ocean of parking spots.
Whole thing is unsettling to New Suburbanists, because they can't cover their development costs or obtain financing if they lease to mom and pop's Moroccan restaurant, and those places thrive in many car friendly developments. Chain restaurant paradises like Reston are not even "victims of their own success" in a Jane Jacobs way, becoming too expensive because they're popular, rather they're just a re-configuration of the same suburban junk that's been around forever, down to the mall cops.
If you look at where you get both local merchants and local pedestrians, you almost always have local capital. Adams Morgan, the Marina, Fremont, Society Hill, the Pearl District, Uptown Minneapolis, Wrigleyville, Newbury Street, etc. do not owe their existence to one big bank loan, but a series of owners obtaining financing in small increments over a period of time. Moreover, they're not "mixed-use". Not many office towers in these places, yet they have a lot more going on at night than many of the skyscraper neighborhoods in their downtowns.
Parts of San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and DC are proving that there are minivan drivers willing to come out to dinner in neighborhoods where they're likely to run across a few, or more, homeless people. But none of these places have been replicated in the suburbs because of light rail, bike lanes, or new office/retail developments. You need local citizens to change neighborhoods, not distant academics.