Anchor Blue is among a growing number of retailers thinking small — chopping off big chunks of stores or moving to more efficient spaces. The change reflects two trends in the retail world: Chains looking for new ways to cut costs in the sour economy, and consumers demanding a less sprawling shopping experience as they spend with greater purpose. “The customer walks in the door, and often sees a huge selection of stuff in a multibrand store, and can’t figure out what to buy and ends up buying nothing,” said Paco Underhill, founder and chief executive of Envirosell, a Manhattan-based company that advises stores on shoppers’ behavior. “We have reached the apogee of the big box, meaning that we can’t grow the store or the shopping mall any bigger, or get any more time or money out of somebody’s pockets.
The struggling Crestwood Court mall in suburban St. Louis sold in 2007 for less than 20 percent of what it had sold for a decade earlier. The new owner, Chicago-based Centrum Properties, intended to demolish it and build an open-air, pedestrian-friendly lifestyle center. But before Centrum could get started, the recession hit, sticking the firm with Crestwood’s rising vacancies. By early 2009, two of the three big-box department stores had closed, and one wing was virtually empty. Crestwood’s leasing team at Jones Lang LaSalle pursued a novel idea to fill some of the vacant storefronts: invite artists to move in at reduced rents. It was an immediate hit in the St. Louis art community. While the leasing agents initially hoped that perhaps 20 artists would respond, Crestwood’s ArtSpace now encompasses more than 60 storefronts, from art galleries and dance classes to an art school and pottery studios. Together, they occupy 200,000 square feet (18,600 sq m)—nearly half the mall’s small-space retail footprint. ArtSpace by itself produces negligible revenue for the mall, but the increased foot traffic helped the facility attract a few small tenants and retain a few more, says Leisa Son, marketing manager for the mall. More important, ArtSpace has generated a bonanza of good publicity. St. Louis’s alternative newspaper named Crestwood its Best Mall of 2009, and earlier this year Crestwood won a prestigious MAXI Award for public relations from the ICSC. “We have effectively changed the public perception of this center and reengaged the community in the center,” Son says. Centrum still intends to demolish the mall—all ArtSpace tenants are on temporary leases—but Son says the artists’ colony has “become a key part of the center that we hope to carry forward in the redevelopment.
The key part of this is at the end. The mall is partly able to run a loss-leading program like ArtSpace at least partly due to low carrying costs, I’d bet. Is that going to continue once the new construction happens, and there’s debt to be serviced?
I feel like there are a lot of new developments that seem to want to capture the magic of, say, a SoHo or a DUMBO, but new construction doesn’t mix well with low margin activities like art. So I’m a bit dubious.
This 13-ft. wide home is based on a common typology in the New Orleans area—the “Single”, meaning a one-family shotgun residence designed to fit the long narrow lots typical in the City. The front stoop is key in neighborhoods like Central City since so much community involvement takes place on the street. Metal grate steps stretch across the front of the house for casual sitting while visiting with neighbors.
Remove barriers to entry: provide frequent transit service for which one doesn’t need a schedule, let people use their cell phones or credit cards to get on transit, eliminate marginal costs through universal passes, get rid of helmet laws for cycling, make available bicycles that are easy to use in all conditions. Put up barriers to entry: increase congestion, increase (or make more obvious) the marginal cost of driving — motorists won’t take into account the costs of highway infrastructure or parking if they’re never faced with them. Make roadways more narrow, thus decreasing the speed of least resistance (instead of hoping that speed limits will work).
“Barriers to entry” is an important concept when thinking about increasing ridership. Some cities are called New York and have such high barriers to auto trips (largely in the form of scarce and expensive parking) that the population is largely pretty transit-reliant. In the rest of the country, though, transit systems need to work harder to get those choice riders. Fare payment (especially for surface transit) is a good example. In most cities in the US, paying a fare is easy for regular users, but not for the casual rider, who is expected to (1) know the fare and (2) have exact change. This isn’t the hardest thing in the world, but if your car is just sitting there, waiting to be driven, then why deal with the hassle? Similarly, bus maps are horrendously complicated in almost every city, which again repels the occasional user. This is part of why Jarrett Walker’s beating the drum on frequent network maps is worth more attention.
The list of reasons that the libertarian/Republican policy of opposing public transportation, especially rail, is wrong could run many pages. A more interesting question is what a thoughtful conservative position on transit might be.
Russell Kirk offers a starting point for crafting an answer. He said that the first conservative political virtue is prudence. And there is nothing prudent about leaving most people immobile should events beyond the pale cut off our oil supply, as happened in 1973 and 1979. At present, half of all Americans have no transit service, and of those who do, only half call it “satisfactory.” The effects of suddenly stranding half the population are grim to imagine, not least on our already shaky economy. Grimmer still is the prospect of going to war to seize the missing oil. Prudence suggests the first goal of a conservative transportation policy would be to provide options, ways to get around without a car.
Instead, the MTA exploits the current economical crisis and its self-inflicted budget woes as a means to gain concessions from our members, all the while using the riding public as pawns. ATU 1056 has remained steadfast against the MTA’s scheme to take back the benefits gained through decades of sacrifice, hard work and bargaining. What the MTA seeks as givebacks represent nothing given to us by the good graces of the MTA. The hardworking men and women who service the public as drivers and mechanics of the buses earned these benefits, which they accepted in lieu of higher wages. The MTA opts to use the public as a pawn in discussions over wages while it continues to fail — “refuse” might be the better word — to exercise its many options to avert service cuts. This refusal demonstrates its true intent.
Nice example of a transit union just not getting it. There isn’t any money, guys. Your pensions and being able to retire at 55 is what is “screwing the public”. If you don’t start making some concessions now, the pain is going to be WAY worse later. Just ask the UAW.
San Francisco lets people put curb cuts in wherever they want, resulting in a lot of lost parking and more danger for pedestrians. Here’s a great example of what happens when you let people use street space for free. Instead of having the garage door face the alley, they’ve got it facing the main street where it eats up a parking space and sets up conflicts with pedestrians (and passing drivers).
If that curb space were priced properly, you wouldn’t see this sort of thing. Why is that so hard for this city to understand?