At times I long to live a world of shopkeepers, small local markets with shopkeepers who are passionate about the products they sell, and the customers who buy them. When I was working for land developers and home builders, the concept of the "New Town Center" was emerging, the concept was to built retail, offices, housing, restaurants and entertainment together in walkable settings for the first time since urbanization. I love the concept, but it was largely screwed up in execution.
Two things failed it, the commercial space was overpriced, seen as an endless income source to the developers resulting on only chain stores backed by huge corporations being able to risk opening. Those retailers generally staff with cheap labor who are only interested in a paycheck (insufficient as it often is) and really are not passionate about the product, or the customers. The other failure was to try to make them hybrid regional shopping areas, with a plethora of parking - again the retailers have to turn huge amounts of money to cover the massive space cost. The parking and traffic often make the Town Centers unfriendly to pedestrians - meaning even locals drive in and try to park near the door of the business they are going to. It was a good concept poorly done, resulting in re-doing the malling of America. We can do better.
The condo community I own in, has some commercial space, a restaurant / bar, a small market, and hair salon. Technically these are open to the public, but unless you live here or are invited by someone who lives here, you won't get past security at the front gate (with a car, you could probably walk in without being questioned.) To keep the businesses, as a service to the community, the rent is dirt cheap, this past year with lock-downs (the dining room and bar have been closed since March) we have waived the rent for these small businesses to keep them open. The association has kept it this way. Periodically there is a call from residents to raise the rent (the rent is probably 1/4 of "market value") and the answer is always, no we want these small businesses to be here, to provide a service to our community, we have to keep it affordable. The market - operated by the same people who run the restaurant and bar, have redone their selections this year, making it more possible to live here without leaving for essential shopping. The restaurant and bar, have focussed on delivery. We call in an order, and within 30 minutes there is a knock at the door and our order is left just outside. (We call it room service.) The restaurant is very passionate about what they do, I am glad to see the market has become more customer oriented. This is how a town center concept should work.
Your first couple sentences sum up completely why I only shop local and small business and shops...and local farmer markets. I like the sense of community and helping them first.ReplyDelete
There is a neat little central european grocery store across from the Metro station you would love.Delete
down the road from me is another failure. the people who live there say there isn't enough parking for THEM, let alone outside people who drive up to shop. I refuse to visit.
my grocery store, weis market, is a PA family-owned company in business since 1912.
And a quick check of the website, the developer is one of the huge global player who commands massive rents.Delete
Your opening paragraph describes why I love living where we do.ReplyDelete
Yes, why many of is dream of living as you do.Delete
It's a very interesting post and good on the majority of where you live having life down below at cheaper rents. Landlord avarice of rents here is killing local businesses and they just can't see how it is better to rent a property out for a cheaper price than have it empty.ReplyDelete
Many of the newer buildings signed long term management agreements on the commercial space with big brokerages, or sold the space to REITs, and all to often the space will sit empty for years.Delete
We prefer local shops and businesses and patronize them as much as possible (although the Pandemic has put a stop to that for now.). Your set up sounds lovely. It is our dream to retire to a small town or village with a restaurant, bar, grocery store, and pharmacy within walking distance. If there was a condo in a building with all that in the base or walkable, we’d be in heaven.ReplyDelete
I wish we had more within walking distance, it would be limiting to not have a car.Delete
I couldn't agree more. It sounds ideal.ReplyDelete
Progress in the right directionDelete
I have no experience in urban planning etc.ReplyDelete
I would hope someone knows what they are doing when designing these sort of things.