[Lifestyle centers try] to re-create a kind of prelapsarian downtown where there is no crime or homelessness. [R]omantic evocations of city centres are possible only because people have forgotten what downtowns used to be like. And they have forgotten, of course, largely because of the suburban shopping malls.... It was necessary to kill the American city centre before bringing it back to life.
It could also be that these centers can function as a downtown in places where there wasn't one before. Many of the newer suburbs just don't have an old-fashioned downtown. The lifestyle center can serve that purpose in part. Indoor malls are not dead, though. You may not see many new indoor regional malls being built, but they have their usefulness too (especially here in the Midwest with cold winter weather).