EXISTING CONDITIONS & TRENDS
Commercial Businesses Today
The Hamilton Place area is a regional shopping destination. In fact, retail, accommodations, food service, and health care account for 75% of all jobs in Area 11. Commercial zoning (which accommodates all of these uses) covers 13.3% of the land in Area 11. Commercial business is vitally important to Area 11, but commercial trends are changing dramatically.
The Changing Retail & Office Market
The continuing growth of online shopping and changing consumer preferences are having huge impacts on the national retail market. Some of the biggest national retailers that have closed all or nearly all stores since 2010 include Blockbuster, Borders, Dressbarn, Fred’s, Gymboree, HHGregg, The Limited, Payless ShoeSource, Sports Authority, and Toys R Us (Retail Wire, 2019). Retail Wire also reported that 8,139 retail stores closed in 2017 in the U.S., followed by 5,524 in 2018. https://www.retailwire.com/discussion/america-has-too-many-retail-stores/ A report released by UBS Securities in April 2019 predicted this downturn in bricks-and-mortar retailing to continue.
Following these national trends, several retail stores in Area 11 have already closed, including Sears, JCPenney, Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Forever 21, Gap, Ethan Allen Interiors, Dress Barn, and Pier One Imports.
Similarly, other types of businesses are reporting a decreasing need for office space and parking due to the rise in telecommuting. The COVID-19 pandemic has merely accelerated these trends.
Walkable Commercial Centers
As a result of these changes, commercial areas of the future are likely to look very different. In fact, regional malls and strip commercial corridors across the country have been transitioning to walkable, mixed-use centers in recent years, integrating more entertainment, food, office, and some residential uses (International Council of Shopping Centers, 2017).
While many of us may not be used to seeing walkable commercial centers, communities have been built that way for hundreds of years. It is only within the last few decades that developers have been building the strip commercial corridors and regional malls that everyone must drive to.
OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES
While the future of the bricks-and-mortar retail industry is uncertain at best, these changes open some very interesting redevelopment opportunities in Area 11. Over time, walkable Commercial Centers can provide a variety of community needs (such as shopping, dining, housing, and jobs) and serve as focal points and community gathering spaces for neighborhoods, but they do come with some challenges.
Adding diversity to a community’s housing can take multiple forms, many of which can be designed to “fit in” with, or near, existing neighborhoods or commercial centers.
COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT: CONCLUSION
The growth in online shopping, consumer preferences, demographic shifts, and the COVID-19 pandemic have all affected—and continue to affect—the viability of new commercial businesses. As many other communities are doing across the country, there is a need to reconsider how commercial centers are structured. How should commercial locations in Area 11 that have been impacted by COVID and online shopping be redeveloped?
Contact Eric Matravers – Area 11 Project Lead, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 423-643-5920.