Retail gentrification: Do new developments favour chain stores?

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The slideshow shows three recently-completed developments with 6-storey buildings. The new occupants of the retail space mostly appear to be chain stores and medical clinics. In areas with a rich tapestry of local stores and services, is it only chain stores and medical clinics that compete for the new space? Could smaller storefronts, with narrow frontages (for example 25 feet or just a bit more) encourage a wider range of services and more appeal and variety of the street front? What are the effects of high ceilings on the ground floor — in terms of building costs, rent costs, look, feel and ambiance? Are business improvement associations (BIAs, which often speak up at Public Hearings to endorse rezoning and development applications) talking to their existing members to get input on what kinds of developments/buildings will help them survive and thrive? How can the City and developers ensure that small shops and businesses (traditional and startups both) survive and thrive when existing commercial sites are demolished and redeveloped? Or does the appearance of a development application sign in front of a building automatically and inevitably mean the death knell for those existing shops and businesses that add so much to the feel, culture and richness of — and love for — a neighbourhood? These are things for everyone to consider, not the least being our planners and elected officials.

2 thoughts on “Retail gentrification: Do new developments favour chain stores?

  1. I completely agree with your analysis. We have demolished the small businesses of Vancouver along with the lovely old apartment buildings that have been let go to unrepaired . They become an eyesore and we are glad to see them go. it is all a plot by the owners/ new owner. You are so right about the number of medical offices- dental, physios, medical clinics etc. and some chain stores- Shoppers Drug or London Drugs-. as the only businesses that can afford the new space and size. It is a ghost town now with so many new store fronts empty. It is too late to revive the city as this concept has been approved by city hall 5 years ago and buildings are just starting with the same retail on the main formula. Even Starbucks can’t exist in the city any longer. Now we have very small one bedroom units where the occupants have to get out and spend hours at coffee shops- and even they are now disappearing. I would hate to be couped up in a one bedroom unit with no where to go. Developers are the winners “big time, all round”.

  2. This is a great little piece of analytical writing, digitalmonkblog. The questions that you so adeptly ask are rhetorical. They could easily be phrased as emphatic statements. In other words, all that you say is true.

    Despite the thinking of many that urban planning can address all problems, planning operates most definitely in a capitalist system. The cases shown here clearly illustrate that capitalism – the profit motive in real estate development and commercial leasing – is the dominant factor.

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