Friday, October 21, 2011

How Urban Retail Infill Works

Costco is moving to New Orleans, and will occupy a currently vacant and blighted parking lot right next to the interstate. Neighborhood groups are receptive.

Though the facility will still focus on automotive traffic, the way the zoning will cascade from major commercial corridor to high-density apartments to neighborhood scale is something worth watching. This is especially true as governments become less able to subsidize suburban and exurban living, and the external costs of commuting long distances between work and home continue to increase.

As more people move back into the cities and urban areas, abandoned retail sites (the dead mall phenomenon - per Dante) will again have value for commerce.

Not only that, but the type of retail is also important. Right now, the only comparable places to shop are outside Orleans Parish, and sales tax dollars go somewhere else. And when you consider the low number of grocery stores in New Orleans, and the high food costs associated, any addition of this nature is welcome. Oh, and new jobs for New Orleans.

(And with a development anchor, maybe we can convince folks to extend the streetcar line down Carrollton, and really work on the pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure around that interchange. Maybe wishful thinking, but we might at least leverage this into a bus route.)

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