“Struggling retailer sees opportunities to improve shopping experience by activating empty parking lots.
As the images of empty parking lots during Black Friday have demonstrated, commercial real estate professionals are slowly warming to the idea that we have far too much parking than is needed- diminishing municipal tax bases and taking away the ability to lease space within struggling shopping centers. Big box retailer Macy’s has announced their intention to create new revenue streams by reimagining acres of unused parking lots- a strategy used by tactical urbanists in places like Nashville, Indianapolis and Miami.”
Author: Michael Joe Murphy, Orlando Sentinel Editorial BoardOutlet: Orlando SentinelPublished: June 20, 2017Link to ArticleArticles
Jun 20, 2017: Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board spoke to Joshua Harris, director of the Dr. P. Phillips Institute for Research and Education in Real Estate at the University of Central Florida, to ask about malls:
“Q: Did shopping malls ever serve a purpose in society, beyond retailing? What changed, if anything?
A: Shopping malls became the de facto “town square” during the suburban development boom of the ’70s and ’80s. They were the place to go, hang out and be seen. Thus, the urban resurgence that began in the late ’90s, and really intensified in the past 10 years, has taken the “town square” back to the more natural walkable, urban environment. Places like Winter Park, Winter Garden, Thornton Park and now even Baldwin Park (close to 95 percent leased after suffering massive problems during the recession) are all the “hot” places to go on a Friday or Saturday. In reality, history will show that the suburban mall was the aberration, driven by urban decay and rising crime. With urban renewal and major declines in crime, the mall does not fit as well as it did for those few decades. There will be life for existing malls, but likely after being repurposed and designed to feel more like town centers.”
Where logical transportation and community infrastructure already exists, sprawl repair techniques can be used to add residential, office, entertainment, and public open space to spur an entire region with new, walkable Town Centers.
Author: TEXT BY CARY ESTES, PHOTOS BY ART MERIPOLOutlet: Business AlabamaPublished: May 26, 2017Link to ArticleArticles
Note: Great article on the success of three New Urbanist developments! These particular communities are examples of new and/or infill projects in suburban locations, which can serve as inspirational models for future suburban retrofits.
Three Alabama towns are robust examples of New Urbanism — traditional communities designed to be practical rather than nostalgic. One was named the National Association of Homebuilders’ 2014 Community of the Year.
In this article, Cary Estes and Art Meripol highlight three successful Alabama communities: Hampstead in Montgomery, the Village of Providence in Huntsville, and Mount Laurel in Birmingham.
It is called New Urbanism, a design concept in which communities are compact and connected. A place where children can walk to school, families can walk to church, and many of the necessities of daily life, such as food and health care, are also just a short stroll away. Where the sidewalks are wide and the front porches deep, and neighbors actually know each other.
“The reason it’s New Urbanism and not old urbanism is that it combines elements of both,” Andres Duany [of DPZ CoDESIGN] says. “We are non-ideological. This is not a nostalgic movement. It’s a pragmatic movement about whatever works best in the long run. And it turns out that what works best tends to have a lot of the characteristics of old-town planning, but with some of the things that suburbs do well. So it’s actually ruthlessly pragmatic.
“Essentially, suburbia, as we’ve known it, is obsolete. Office parks and malls are closing. People want the main streets. So now New Urbanism is dedicated to retrofitting suburbia and repairing urban sprawl. One of the most exciting things we’re doing now is taking all this great investment in suburbia that is losing value, and we’re fixing it. We’re making it walkable and diverse. This isn’t some kind of intellectual movement. It’s driven very much by reality,” according to Duany.
The connection between the type of places we live in and our well-being should be obvious, but until recently there has been little hard data showing sprawl’s negative impacts on our health – both physical and mental. This is changing and not only health practitioners but also public officials and residents have started to acknowledge the importance of walkable, mixed-use environments.