Starbucks Closures Hit Home

Paul Shigley reflects on the impact of a Starbucks closing in downtown Redding, a small town in northern California.

"Last year, when we ranked downtown Redding the second most disappointing among mid-sized cities in California, some people in City Hall took it as a knock on their redevelopment efforts. Maybe it was, but downtown Redding's failure is far too complete for only the government to get the blame. Property owners and merchants deserve large shares, too.

Ultimate responsibility, though, lies with the community. Redding is a town where people rush to the newest franchise restaurant. Earlier this year, they lined up overnight for the opening of a Chipotle in a rebuilt strip center. Seriously. It's a town where Wal-Mart, Costco, Target and Home Depot have big boxes within walking distance of each other – although you'd take your life in your hands trying to make the trip on foot.

In other words, most people who live in Redding don't care about having a vibrant, walkable downtown full of local flavor. And no one – including an urban planning journalist who thinks he knows better – can make them care."

Full Story: They're Closing The Wrong Starbucks in Downtown Redding
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Comments

Comments

Planning can't always change attitudes

This article kind of proves the point that the best planning in the world can't always influence behavior. People like shopping at big box stores and going to chain restaurants and all the pedestrian friendliness in the world isn't going to change that overnight. Its unfortunate that local businesses suffer because people line up for Chipotle (and I love Chipotle and ate at the original location many times as a student at University of Denver before it took over the world).

The challenge for planners is that just creating 'great places' doesn't necessarily make them real places that can be successful. Businesses need customers and so far, customers still like going to the strip centers and big boxes. Our current pattern of behavior and development didn't happen overnight and its not going to change overnight, there will still be failures like seems to be happening in downtown Redding and we have to accept it and keep working.

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