Do Chain Stores Threaten L.A.'s Newfound Urbanity?

As downtown Los Angeles seeks to cement its nascent transformation into a full-fledged urban neighborhood, Sam Lubell cautions against the threat brought by the suburban mindset of Walmart, Target, and other chain operators.

It says a lot about how delicate downtown L.A.'s remarkable transformation over the past decade must be that local urbanists fear the arrival of a single Walmart to the neighborhood's north edge may unravel the area's trend towards increased pedestrianization and street activity.

But alas, in an editorial for The Architect's Newspaper, Sam Lubell laments the arrival of one of Walmart's Neighborhood Market stores (at 33,000 sf, it's smaller than the average 106,000 sf store) to Chinatown as, "A major test of Downtown's continued development."

Lubell implores the city's citizens "to be vigilant to make sure that Walmart doesn't further decay the fabric of a neighborhood, and the city, at a vital turning point."

"As the economy continues to turn around and development makes its way into Downtown LA and other dense urban areas," writes Lubell, "we need to maintain the urbanity, albeit an urbanity tempered with amenities like parks, public spaces and bike-lanes, that makes our cities more viable, exciting, and livable. What happens now, as the recovery is in its infancy, will set the stage for future development. This is a turning point. Let's take advantage." 

Have faith Angelenos, even a poorly designed Walmart along its fringe shouldn't be enough to derail a downtown development train that continued to plow ahead during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Look at it this way, even a bad outcome may help galvanize neighbors to define and defend the type of urbanity that drew them to downtown in the first place. 

Full Story: Editorial> Make It Urban


Brand new! Urban Grid City Collection

Each city has its own unique story. Commemorate where you came from or where you want to go.
Grids and Guide Red book cover

Grids & Guides

A notebook for visual thinkers. Available in red and black.
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

The Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is the only comprehensive ranking and listing of graduate urban planning programs available.
Starting at $24.95
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95