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Making Better Retail Districts in Seattle

Ryan Packer argues that Seattle could do more to improve its retail districts by updating its building codes to encourage dense, welcoming shopping districts.
November 22, 2016, 7am PST | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Brick and mortar retailer stores flourish in areas where other similar stores are plentiful. Empty buildings, long stretches of brick or concrete walls, and even large retailers with one entrance can create streets that feel dead. Flourishing retail districts don't just benefit shop owners, they give cities their vibrancy, encourage walking and make for interesting places to visit.

In a piece for The Urbanist, Ryan Packer suggests three strategies to encourage these lively neighborhoods:

  • Giving extra floor area in exchange for locating the large-footprint retail uses away from street frontages;
  • Encouraging smaller, ground floor retail units
  • Requiring accessibility and higher activity uses at primary street corners.

Even featureless blocks don't have to feel abandoned. "Some practical solutions to improving these spaces include things like ground floor transparency (few blank walls), adding faux building entrances, painting murals on walls, and reducing maximum building widths," Packer adds. 

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Published on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 in The Urbanist
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