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Thread: What's a small city to do?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    What's a small city to do?

    OK, here's what we have, throbbing brain: urban neighborhood, CVS on the corner, defunct movie theatre and pizza place, another empty store front, and a laundromat. All next door to a urban supermarket which has parking.

    I received an email from my neighborhood association about CVS needing/wanting to expand and make a drive thru pharmacy here, tearing down the theatre and other two store fronts. While the CVS is fine and has been a staple in the neighborhood, I don't think a drive thru is necessary, nor is the need for such an expansion.

    The empty space is located right near two universities--The College of Saint Rose is right across the street and the University at Albany is nearby, but more importantly, all of the student neighborhoods are really, really close and it's on a central busline and also near other neighborhoods consisting of two family and one family homes.

    I called the commissioner of city planning here and spoke to her and voiced my idea of a bookstore--barnes and noble or borders (we have neither in the actual City of Albany) in lieu of a drive thru CVS--the good thing is that the zoning laws wouldn't allow a drive thru CVS, but the bad thing is that Borders (I don't know about B&N yet) won't go into an area like this because they deem it too be suburban, eventhough it is urban. They wouldn't even go into downtown Albany--again, it's not urban enough, apparently, and the parking isn't there. It's my contention that there are two types of Borders--urban and suburban. But what about a city that's in between--a small city, like Albany. The commissioner also said that the CVS proposal was the first real interest in the location in over a year (aside from a bar or a non-profit organization, which we have plenty of both).

    As a student, I can tell you that this would be a great addition to the neighborhood. Also, I know that I hate having to drive all the way out to get to a bookstore like the aforementioned (although I always try to support our little local guy)--hmm, maybe he could have two locations. Another thought. I guess what I'm grappling with is why no one wants to take advantage of the fact that close to 25,000+ students come to live and learn in the City of Albany every year. A bookstore with a cafe (place to study) would be great. Note: we don't even have a real Sturbucks in the City of Albany--there's pseudo Starbucks in the lobby of a bank downtown--it's kinda weird.

    Has anyone else dealt with a problem like this? Any suggestions? I'm going to write Borders and Barnes and Noble. I'll post pics of what the area looks like soon.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Ahhhh - you must think outside the box, Grasshopper. Think local - as in independant.

    Make your case for the location and use to the local chamber of commerce and Small Business Development Center. They will likely know of budding entrepreneurs interested in opening a bookstore/cafe.

    And don't let them sell anything but Green Mountain Coffee Roasters coffee, either.

    P.S.: Albany is not upstate. There - I've said it!
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by SGB
    Ahhhh - you must think outside the box, Grasshopper. Think local - as in independant.

    Make your case for the location and use to the local chamber of commerce and Small Business Development Center. They will likely know of budding entrepreneurs interested in opening a bookstore/cafe.

    And don't let them sell anything but Green Mountain Coffee Roasters coffee, either.

    P.S.: Albany is not upstate. There - I've said it!

    I know, I know and I'm thinking that might be the best route. Maybe taking advantage of the Empire Zone initiatives. There's only really one local book seller. But if the incentive's there, why not approach them?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Elisabeth
    Maybe taking advantage of the Empire Zone initiatives.
    Hey, go nuts. The budget passed by the Senate and Assembly extends the zones program for a whopping 9 months! Or until the State Comptroller's Office issues another scathing program audit. Whichever comes first.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  5. #5
    spokanite's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Elisabeth
    Another thought. I guess what I'm grappling with is why no one wants to take advantage of the fact that close to 25,000+ students come to live and learn in the City of Albany every year. A bookstore with a cafe (place to study) would be great. Note: we don't even have a real Sturbucks in the City of Albany--there's pseudo Starbucks in the lobby of a bank downtown--it's kinda weird.

    Thanks!
    Are any of the universities interested in opening/expanding a University Bookstore down there? That could get the ball rolling, and encourage more student traffic; more student traffic = more student $$$.

    As for Starbucks...well...gotta encourage local on that one.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    You would be wise to back up your case with a brief market analysis demonstrating the sales leakage of books and literature. ESRI Business Solutions has the reports available at reasonable cost, and the analysis is not that difficult.

  7. #7

    Great moments are born from great opportunties....Herb Brooks

    After talking to the Elisabeth about this opportunity that is available in her community, I cannot help but think of that quote from Herb Brooks.

    A Barnes & Nobles located in a redevelopment area with a Starbucks present, is a great opportunity for both Corporations to make a presence. I think any franchise owner who would undertake this would have nothing but success.

    Looking under the Albany webpage in the Economic Development Section...there are great some incentives for these Corporate entities to pursue a redevelopment opportunity in a public/private partnership with the local colleges/universities.

    Great Thesis project as far as the process. Including the communities that are in the area as well as the redevelopment aspect of a underutilized existing structure. Any contanimation? You could look at even using Brownfields monies to help clean up and redevelop. It would definately have a ED twist on the project.

    Anyways....keep us posted!!
    Forechecking is overrated.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Elisabeth
    ... but the bad thing is that Borders (I don't know about B&N yet) won't go into an area like this because they deem it too be suburban, eventhough it is urban. They wouldn't even go into downtown Albany--again, it's not urban enough, apparently, and the parking isn't there.

    Barns and Nobles might be a possibility. My city has a Barns and Noble, yet we do not have a downtown, and we are hardcore suburb. The thing that you have to show the planning commission is a bookstore might not only have a positive influence on the surrounding area, it could pose an economic benefit by providing a cultural resource as well as increased property values. If I were you, I would look at similar communities that have a CVS or a Barn’s and Noble and check the property values for ¼, ½, and full mile radius from the store.

    When looking for other communities, keep in mind the large student population, availability of public transportation, and other similar business in close proximity to the target demographic.
    You get what you give.

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