Let's stop stupid once and for all when it comes to retail development!
I've suggested at various times and to various people that we need to establish some laws to protect citizens from poor planning by the leadership of communities that ultimately result in urban sprawl--eventual eyesores that are environmentally unsound and even dangerous spaces which deteriorate for years on our urban landscape. Frankly, it may not be until we make it too expensive for some people to stop persisting in stupid before they will stop.
Again, I know it's difficult to predict trends and that is where 1) insurance or some type of law may be in order to protect the general public from situations such as urban blight--buildings sitting empty for years while those who own them get to use them for tax write offs and the public gets an eyesore--hardly a fair exchange by any standard.
And 2) We need better, more ecologically sound designs and design considerations from the builders and developers. For example, any commercial building constructed today with an asphalt or concrete parking area should not be allowed. Environmental remediation of such construction is cost prohibitive. We've known that for at least 30 years. It's time to apply that knowledge.
We need to stop retail sprawl.
Saturated retail markets bring deterioration and decay. It's all so predictable.
Think about it: Sprawl rarely brings about a net increase in economic growth. Instead of real growth, there is simply displacement of economic activity. This triggers a whole cycle of deterioration in older communities. Did you ever wonder what happened to South Garland, for example? You can chalk it up to retail sprawl.
To put this in another local perspective, we don't have a growth in retail business at Firewheel. What we have is a displacement of economic activity from Collin Creek Mall and the shopping center at Plano Road/Beltline and perhaps other shopping centers in the area.
We need to be paying more attention to 1) Job training and education 2) job creation 3) creating new and real markets 4) increasing the potential offered by plant-based raw materials, in other words, actually creating new products--not introducing the same chain stores into a different area.
ADDENDUM JULY 2, 2015
CURRENT "RETAIL DEVELOPMENT" IN THE USA FOR THE PAST 25 YEARS HAS BEEN LITTLE MORE THAN SHUFFLING DECK CHAIRS ON THE TITANIC OF LOCAL ECONOMIES
Perhaps another appropriate analogy might be "putting a different shade of lipstick on the same pig." When a new retail center opens within a few miles of another one, what happens is predictable: One by one most of the chain stores in the older center will move to the new, bright shiny "different" retail center and close their doors in the older center. I've observed it locally many times. For example, it was only a few months after Firewheel Shopping Center opened its Barnes and Noble that the one located in the older mall at the corner of Plano Road and Beltline closed its doors and the deterioration of that retail center began in earnest. Today that older center is a shell of its former self. If you have lived in Garland for at least 10 years, you know this is true.
Also "what is good" or "what makes business sense" for globally based businesses is often not in sync for what is good for local economies.
There are many things that can change this situation but the over all solution is a focus on L-O-C-A-L. Main Street needs to lessen its dependence on big box chains and develop local businesses that are truly new and are designed to serve the local population--not a global market. it is also important to the economic stability of the local economy that these businesses be locally held. This is the only way to successfully anchor a local economy. I've been preaching this for 15 years as have other people, but I'm not sure the message has gotten across to the leadership of communities.
URBAN AGRICULTURE IS ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO STIMULATE A LOCAL ECONOMY--perhaps the only sustainable way.
Where many small local businesses fail is in trying to imitate the big box chains and/or in aiming to grow into one. Urban agriculture can become a huge local force within communities. By selecting the appropriate crops to grow within the local urban environment, people can create their own raw materials for creating products. The best types of products are 1) those that are consumed (thus the need to purchase again) 2) those that are considered "essential" and 3) those made from raw materials obtained locally. Nothing fits the bill better for this than agricultural products.
Walkable Main Street - Garland Texas
This is not a plan to add to the urban retail sprawl. If we are not careful, urban development will become just another example of shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic of our local economy. We will make the full circle of retail development and the big chains will abandon the suburbs and return home to our downtown areas.
Walkable Main Street- Garland Texas is a different type of development. Within this existing mixed-use area of retail/commercial/vacant lots it proposes an urban farm of about three acres, clusters of smaller homes that are designed to be aesthetically appealing and yet affordable, makerspaces that encourage development of creative new products and new ways of doing things, support for industrial/commercial businesses already in the area, connectivity of this entire area (including the existing industrial/commercial businesses) to downtown Garland and its businesses and urban residents.
Walkable Main Street is indeed, a new way to structure the local economy in the direction of success for everyone.
For more information on Walkable Main Street, visit Loving Garland Green.
Explore a growing body of knowledge about an exciting ongoing project to create a plan for building a vibrant sustainable mixed-use neighborhood!