The Importance of Retail Design to the Future of Our Cities and Towns

Much of the future built environment will be determined by how commercial sites are developed, says Robert Steuteville. And it's up to cities and towns to demand better retail designs.

"Recently I criticized the design of a supposedly nonpolluting, 'net zero' Walgreens in Evanston, Illinois. Aside from the raft of solar panels on the roof, the store looks like it could be located by any Interstate interchange. The store is, in fact, in a walkable neighborhood, one block from a Chicago Transit Authority station. The claim of “net zero” strikes me as flimsy — note the SUVs in the parking lot and that much of the merchandise will be shipped from Asia — but mostly I object to the parking in front. The store design diminishes the walkability of the neighborhood, which cancels out the energy savings of the building itself."

"The national retailers will need in the coming years to build more and more in redeveloped and infill locations. They are changing their formats when they are required to, but not otherwise."

"At stake are mediocre streets that are connected to street networks and need to become complete streets, sites near transit that are marginally walkable now and should be improved, and strip malls with the potential to be redeveloped into mixed-use urban villages."

Full Story: Why retail design is important

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