From Malls To Town Centers
The City of Oakland has banned Wal-Mart and similar big-box retail chains, citing undue pressure on local retailers. (via Buzzflash)
My local hardware store is a Rona affiliate, but they're still an independent store that decides what they want to stock, give me personal advice, and know who their customers are. It's a sensible balance that seems to work. Hint hint, Sam W.
Meanwhile, not far from where I work, the space across from Carrefour Angrignon is becoming another depressing, flat asphalt parking lagoon walled in by big-box retail - Canadian Tire, a Wal-Mart Supercenter, a Loblaws, a lonely little island building with a L'Equipeur and a SAQ, and now a new building under construction on the corner that will probably be a fry pit of some kind. The corner across from it is becoming depressing, cheap-looking apartment condos - well situated next to the metro, mind you, but tall buildings cause unrest.
In the space used up for this whole schlocky retailarama, they could have built a complete New Urbanist neighborhood with a mix of housing types, parks (even community gardens or commons) and integrated storefront retail. Of course, who'd want to live next to Carrefour Angrignon and the gigantic field where they dump snow from streetcleaning?
Well, actually, when the malls die off sometime in the next 20 years, they can be profitably transformed back into neighborhoods, too. Something the owners of Decarie Square and similarly orphaned, marginal retail emporia should seriously think about, given the lack of vacancies in this burg. (Check out that picture - man, is that one ugly mall.)