In a surprising twist on the manufactured downtowns that have spread across suburbia, a billionaire developer in this central Ohio city — looking to survive amid a retail apocalypse — is doubling down on the much-derided mall.

Why it matters: Billionaire Turkish developer Yaromir Steiner plans on expanding his mall into a bona-fide town at a time when thousands are downsizing. Columbus has long been known as a test market, as its population is a near-perfect microcosm of the country. If a new model for malls as towns works in Columbus, it’ll work across America, experts say.

Steiner tells Axios he envisions a real town where you can rent an apartment, go to work, do your groceries, go out to eat, and even go clubbing on Saturday night. It won’t be known for a while if Steiner is onto something. But he is spending $500 million on the gamble.