The Community Land Use and Economics Group is a small, specialized, consulting firm that helps community leaders create vibrant downtowns and neighborhood commercial centers. Our work focuses on developing forward-looking economic transformation strategies, with particular emphasis on cultivating locally owned businesses, removing regulatory and financial barriers, creating effective incentives to stimulate new investment, reusing older and historic commercial buildings, and outlining practical implementation plans. Our clients include local and state governments, nonprofit organizations, business improvement districts, developers, and planning firms in the US and abroad.
You may have read about the untimely demise of Amtrak's flip-board train information sign in Philadelphia. It was removed last month, the last one of its kind in the US. But there's a small company called Oat Foundry in Philadelphia that still manufactures "split-flap" display boards and they are being installed in restaurants, public spaces, and as interactive art projects (with an app for posting messages). Here’s a video.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Amazon is getting ready to open a new chain of grocery stores, smaller than traditional supermarkets and at a lower price point than its flagship Whole Foods. It's starting in Los Angeles, with expansion planned to Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia. These are expected to take aim at both traditional and smaller-format stores and place a strong emphasis on high-margin health-and-beauty-aid products.
Legacy business programs are invaluable in helping protect independently owned businesses from displacement in hot markets, helping with business succession, and helping tell a community's story, among other things. Let us know if we can help your district create one.
"In a bold move to address its affordable-housing crisis and confront a history of racist housing practices, Minneapolis has decided to eliminate single-family zoning, a classification that has long perpetuated segregation." Here’s the story.
A cafe near Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, offers coffee and snacks to students for free - well, in exchange for some personal information and the opportunity for the barista to tell them about one of the cafe’s sponsors while fixing a customer’s beverage.
Amazon has reordered the retail economy, but (some) physical stores are performing better than ever. The number of retailers is declining. Those that are succeeding are connecting their online storefronts to the instant gratification of their actual storefronts. "Many successful stores are now a cross between a fast-food drive-through and a hotel concierge."
All the Toys R Us stores are now closed, leaving approximately 28.6 million square feet of retail space vacant - and accounting for 21 percent of all store closures in the US so far this year. The companies leasing the vacant space left behind include Big Lots, Hobby Lobby, Burlington Coat Factory, and TJ Maxx, as well as some non-retailers, like medical facilities and coworking spaces. If you have an indie toy store in your downtown or neighborhood, this could be a great time for it to expand its market share.
A suburban Cleveland shopping mall’s solution to filling its long-vacant department store space: lease the space to a self-storage facility. The 162,200 square foot former Macy’s is now being converted to self-storage units. Kind of ironic, isn’t it?
Investment advisor The Motley Fool has flagged 17 major national retail chains as being at risk of failure in 2018, including giants like Sears, JCPenney, and Barnes & Noble, as well as some slightly smaller (but still large) chains, such as J. Crew, Payless, and Nine West.
As we have pointed out before, national retail chains often close outlets not because market demand for their goods and services has disappeared but because there is some problem with the company's overall fundamentals (such as adding new outlets at a financially unsustainable rate). When a chain store closes locally, it could represent an opportunity for one or more locally owned downtown businesses to make a play for the purchases local shoppers might otherwise have made at the chain. Want more information on how your downtown might take advantage of these potential opportunities? Contact us.
Yet more evidence that the market for retail mattress stores is softening: Mattress Firm is closing 200 additional outlets. Seems like the company's executives have been losing sleep over its rapid expansion (1500 new outlets since 2010).