Big Box on a Diet

<p>Big box stores are following their customers into downtowns, and stores like Circuit City and Target are retooling for density.</p>
June 1, 2008, 5am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Attribute it to empty-nest syndrome, falling crime rates, or rising gas prices: suburbanites are downsizing to apartments and condos located near theaters and cafes on walkable downtown blocks in San Diego, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and other cities nationwide.

Big-box retailers are in hot pursuit, eager to grow beyond their longtime suburban locations to tap these emerging markets. But the traditionally sprawling floor plates of these stores aren't a good fit for densely settled urban areas. So, architects are laying them out more up-and-down than left-to-right-with more floors, less parking, fewer signs, and more glass facades-even if that means breaking with the look that once helped define the store's brand. "Big-box retailers across the country are becoming substantially more flexible about what kind of box they can use," says John Bemis, an Atlanta-based director of Jones Lang LaSalle Retail, a national real estate firm."

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Published on Thursday, May 29, 2008 in Architectural Record
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