Designing Regional Urban Retail Centers:  Lessons from the Mall and Beyond

Having worked in communities big and small across the continent, we’ve had ample opportunity to test ideas and find approaches that work best. Urban design details. Outreach tactics. Implementation tricks. Many of these lessons are transferable, which is why we’ve created “Back of the Envelope,” a weekly feature where we jot ‘em down for your consideration.

As many of us are actively trying to reform car-focused retail into dynamic mixed-use, walkable urban centers, we are quick to point at the mall as the poster child for everything we are trying to reform. But as the heyday of last-century’s drive-to mall fades into the past, there are many things that the mall excelled at.

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Monkey See, Monkey Don’t: Economic Development as a Whole New Animal

In the economic development world, we’re always trying to grow our economic base. And by that we mean goods and services that we export, not just what we use in our local markets. That might include university services, tourism, and any products that we pack and ship, or regional retail that we steal from our neighbors.

We see economic development in conventional terms, and we seek only to perpetuate the model, adding more of the same to the end of the chain. Another monkey from the barrel, so to speak. Continue Reading