If your town’s vision is already looking for walkability, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, main streets, sustainability… it is your duty to implement that vision by directing your retail to a walkable, mixed-use place, and supporting it by not diluting the market by also putting those shops down the street in the mega-center too.
In this blog post Geoff Dyer of Better Towns and Cities makes the case for directing smaller shops & restaurants to Town Center locations rather than big-box regional retail centers.
The retail component of a mixed-use town center is the most visible component, often defining the character and pedigree of a place. Dyer asserts that there is a better balance of stakeholder benefits when retail is located in a mixed-use town center:
- Municipalities – reinforce existing infrastructure
- Developers – create an enduring asset/rent premiums
- Neighbors – convenient amenities and vibrant public space
While Big-box and larger format retailers have their benefits and are convenient in their own way, when smaller shops and restaurants are needlessly sucked out of the historic town centers and into sprawling auto-oriented regional centers, everybody loses.