Man built secret apartment in unused part of shopping mall and lived there four years before being caught

After getting his condo bulldozed, a man and several of his friends found a new home in an unused section of their local mall.

While some might romanticize the idea of living inside a mall, few get the chance the see if it’s all what it’s cracked up to be.

However, in the mid-2000s, a handful of friends decided to test the theory, living within an abandoned area of the Providence Place Mall for four years before their eventual removal from the premises.

The friends, led by Michael Townsend, created their own living area within the Rhode Island mall and occupied it from 2003 until 2007.

Townsend had seen the mall on his daily jog and noticed an unused section of it lying dormant for several years, and heard a radio ad saying how great it would be to get to live at the mall.

When Townsend was removed from his soon-to-be bulldozed condo, he decided to make that area his new home.

It turns out the same developers who displaced Townsend also created the mall itself, making Townsend’s idea to live within the mall infused with a small dose of cosmic justice.

He was joined by seven fellow artists who decided alongside him to occupy the vacant space in the mall.

Michael Townsend

While this seems like a plan that you’d expect to fall apart swiftly, the what-ifs did not affect the friends’ choice.

They quickly found ways to keep their living quarters hidden, such as building a cinderblock wall to conceal the area that they were actively staying in.

Within the space, Townsend and company had created a charming apartment-like living space with a dining area, a TV, and even a PlayStation 2.

“It was an awesome opportunity for us to try to make a domestic space within the mall,” Townsend told NBC News. “To test our own notions of what a home means.”

The crew had planned to further renovate the space in 2007 but were ultimately met with security guards who escorted them out of the building and got Townsend arrested for trespassing.

Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Luckily for Townsend, his arrest did not lead to any further jail time, instead being placed on probation for the misdemeanor offense.

“I cannot emphasize enough that the entire endeavor was done out of a compassion to understand the mall more and life as a shopper,” Townsend noted on his website following his extended stay in the mall.

While many might scoff at the concept of squatting in an unused part of a mall, Townsend grew to view the area as a home like any other while also being so novel that it allowed him to gain a unique perspective that few others can ever truly acquire.