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Thread: Big-box in suburban downtowns?

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Big-box in suburban downtowns?

    What big-box or medium-box stores are most compatible with suburban or small-city downtown areas. We all know of double-decker Targets and such (in the big city) and we all know that any strip center store (from UPS Store to Starbucks) and most restaurants are compatible. But what about the big guys? Do you think they'd be able to fit into the suburban downtown atmosphere? Picture a suburban downtown along a railroad with no condo or office building higher than 15 stories. I think the most successful examples near me include Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Naperville, Highland Park, and Skokie/Evanston.

    Here are some that have successfully adapted to suburban downtowns:
    Borders/Barnes & Noble
    Walgreen's/CVS
    Blockbuster/Hollywood Video
    Plus, every strip center store you can think of and some restaurants.

    What other stores have and what other stores have the potential to adapt?
    Also, what stores do you think would NEVER be able to adapt?
    Also, what about the major chain casual sit-down restaurants?

    Extremely good examples would be great, if you got 'em.
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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Target Does Well

    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    What big-box or medium-box stores are most compatible with suburban or small-city downtown areas. We all know of double-decker Targets and such (in the big city) and we all know that any strip center store (from UPS Store to Starbucks) and most restaurants are compatible. But what about the big guys? Do you think they'd be able to fit into the suburban downtown atmosphere? Picture a suburban downtown along a railroad with no condo or office building higher than 15 stories. I think the most successful examples near me include Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Naperville, Highland Park, and Skokie/Evanston.

    Here are some that have successfully adapted to suburban downtowns:
    Borders/Barnes & Noble
    Walgreen's/CVS
    Blockbuster/Hollywood Video
    Plus, every strip center store you can think of and some restaurants.

    What other stores have and what other stores have the potential to adapt?
    Also, what stores do you think would NEVER be able to adapt?
    Also, what about the major chain casual sit-down restaurants?

    Extremely good examples would be great, if you got 'em.
    Target does well downtown- there is a new one in Stamford, CT, that looks pretty good (and I think got no public funds- check their web site) and I think downtown Minneapolis has one as well.

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Crate & Barrel (I think that's what it's called)
    Pier 1
    World Market.
    Some quite large GAP stores around 20,000 sf
    Pottery Barn
    The Container Store
    Sharper Image & most electronics stores, for that matter.
    Clothing stores seem to do well in the suburban feux downtown as well--though I haven't seen one of the larger ones like Old Navy in this setting yet.

    I've seen one Chili's, a Denny's and an IHOP in suburban downtowns next to medium-sized hotels. Pei Wei Asian Diner is another chain restaurant I've seen in downtowns.

    Walmart, Kmart (while it's still here), Sears (while it's still here), Kohl's, large supermarkets will never show up in this setting, though they may locate within a block or two using their standard model. Sear's and Kmart are too close-minded and Walmart is just too damn big and auto-dependant. Kohl's I just don't think will follow in the footsteps of Target. I compare them more to a JC Penny's or something. Also, I generally don't believe home improvement stores will show up in downtowns because the products are so big/heavy that they would be hard to transport long distances to your car.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Considering that Sears, JC Pennys, and the like were the past original anchors in downtown shopping districts, I see no reason that they should not be able to fit the model again.

    Discount stores like Target, Kmart, etc seem to be the result of an auto focused transportation system and provide the services that were once provided by 5 or so seperate, small retailers in downtown settings.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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    Cyburbian michiganplanner's avatar
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    Originally posted by boiker
    Considering that Sears, JC Pennys, and the like were the past original anchors in downtown shopping districts, I see no reason that they should not be able to fit the model again.
    In some places the model never changed or "something" else happened to make them stay.
    I give you Petoskey and Owosso, MI. Both have had JC Penney stores in their downtowns for many years.
    I'd be more apathetic if I weren't so lethargic.

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michiganplanner
    In some places the model never changed or "something" else happened to make them stay.
    I give you Petoskey and Owosso, MI. Both have had JC Penney stores in their downtowns for many years.
    As well as downtown Lapeer, MI.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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    Cyburbian michiganplanner's avatar
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    Originally posted by mendelman
    As well as downtown Lapeer, MI.
    I wonder why that is? Clearly they felt that their downtown presence was some significant part of its business plan. I wonder how they arrived at that conclusion? Did they see everybody else (big boxes) moving out and see an opportunity? Maybe a niche market? I think its great that they are there. I just wish I could have been a fly on the wall during those meetings when those decsions were made. Of course, maybe it wasn't so thought out...maybe somebody fell asleep at the switch as they were being eclipsed by Target, Marshall Fields. etc and when they awoke they found themselves with d-town stores and haven't figured if they are adding or subtracting to the bottom line yet.

    Who knows?
    I'd be more apathetic if I weren't so lethargic.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    Crate & Barrel (I think that's what it's called)
    Pier 1
    World Market.
    Some quite large GAP stores around 20,000 sf
    Pottery Barn
    The Container Store
    Sharper Image & most electronics stores, for that matter.
    Clothing stores seem to do well in the suburban feux downtown as well--though I haven't seen one of the larger ones like Old Navy in this setting yet.

    I've seen one Chili's, a Denny's and an IHOP in suburban downtowns next to medium-sized hotels. Pei Wei Asian Diner is another chain restaurant I've seen in downtowns.

    Walmart, Kmart (while it's still here), Sears (while it's still here), Kohl's, large supermarkets will never show up in this setting, though they may locate within a block or two using their standard model. Sear's and Kmart are too close-minded and Walmart is just too damn big and auto-dependant. Kohl's I just don't think will follow in the footsteps of Target. I compare them more to a JC Penny's or something. Also, I generally don't believe home improvement stores will show up in downtowns because the products are so big/heavy that they would be hard to transport long distances to your car.
    All those stores you mention are great. I think anything that can go in a lifestyle center can go in a downtown. Also, I believe that anything that can be made two stories can go downtown.

    Also, please tell me where you've seen a suburban downtown with a Chili's, IHOP, Denny's, and attached hotels. I would love to see that.

    Quote Originally posted by michiganplanner
    I wonder why that is? Clearly they felt that their downtown presence was some significant part of its business plan. I wonder how they arrived at that conclusion? Did they see everybody else (big boxes) moving out and see an opportunity? Maybe a niche market? I think its great that they are there. I just wish I could have been a fly on the wall during those meetings when those decsions were made. Of course, maybe it wasn't so thought out...maybe somebody fell asleep at the switch as they were being eclipsed by Target, Marshall Fields. etc and when they awoke they found themselves with d-town stores and haven't figured if they are adding or subtracting to the bottom line yet.

    Who knows?
    Yeah, that JC Penney thing is strange. I think it is a good idea though, focusing on small mircropolitan markets and such, a void that the other dept. stores fail to fill. I do think that JC Penney could clean up or update a lot of their stores though, so they don't lose that market.

    Also, I am still surprised to find Kohl's not following in Target's footsteps. But I guess Kohl's doesn't want to mess up their system of highly-successful suburban big-box out-of-mall stores. I think Wal-Mart is stuck in the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it mentality as well.
    Last edited by Tranplanner; 16 Aug 2005 at 2:38 PM. Reason: double reply
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    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    I have seen and shopped in one two story kohls. It is one of the three remaining anchors (out of the original four) at Southridge Mall in Greendale, WI(Milwaukee, WI metro). I'm not sure if they've had much success with this or whether it is a unique situation that they have yet to rectify...

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by iamme
    I have seen and shopped in one two story kohls. It is one of the three remaining anchors (out of the original four) at Southridge Mall in Greendale, WI(Milwaukee, WI metro). I'm not sure if they've had much success with this or whether it is a unique situation that they have yet to rectify...
    Two-story Kohl's in Chicagoland malls were always the norm. But that trend is changing now that their out-of-mall stores are becoming more popular.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Any of the smaller shops that you would find in a mall would go in a LARGE downtown like you describe. A small downtown is something much different.

    The mid-tier retailers like Sears, Penney's, and Kohl's are currently in a state of change. Sears and Penneys have many older downtown stores that did not get closed, mainly because there was no mall for them to move into. Usually you will find these in rural cities like Goodland, Kansas or Williston, North Dakota. They are still open because they are profitable, and usually have little competition.

    The discount department stores like Kmart, Wal-Mart and Target are very different from the mid-tier stores. For the most part, these were never in downtowns and you are not going to find them there now. The thing planners have a difficult time understanding is the relationship between land rents and store sales - or in other words, profitability. Why would any shop locate in an area where its expenses were exceedingly high, when it might just as easily choose a location nearby which costs less? The market needs to justify the increased costs.

    Let's say you have a choice of putting up a home depot in a downtown area or five miles away on a commercial strip. The downtown might cost $35 per square foot in rent, with additional operating costs (delivery and stocking difficulties, etc.) that I won't try to quantify. Alternatively, the strip location might cost $15 per square foot. WIll the downtown location have that much better a market that the store sales will be $20 or more per square foot higher than at the strip location? Probably not.
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    What big-box or medium-box stores are most compatible with suburban or small-city downtown areas. We all know of double-decker Targets and such (in the big city) and we all know that any strip center store (from UPS Store to Starbucks) and most restaurants are compatible. But what about the big guys? Do you think they'd be able to fit into the suburban downtown atmosphere? Picture a suburban downtown along a railroad with no condo or office building higher than 15 stories. I think the most successful examples near me include Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Naperville, Highland Park, and Skokie/Evanston.

    Here are some that have successfully adapted to suburban downtowns:
    Borders/Barnes & Noble
    Walgreen's/CVS
    Blockbuster/Hollywood Video
    Plus, every strip center store you can think of and some restaurants.

    What other stores have and what other stores have the potential to adapt?
    Also, what stores do you think would NEVER be able to adapt?
    Also, what about the major chain casual sit-down restaurants?

    Extremely good examples would be great, if you got 'em.
    Though Arlington lacks a classic "downtown," it has a number of urbanized neighborhoods, mostly concentrated around subway stops, where there are big box retailers that have had to a greater or lesser degree adopt their normal store requirements. You'll see her the mid-upscale grocer Harris Teeter (which has built double decker stores in urban or quasi-urban Arlington and parts of Fairfax). Also at or near Pentagon Row are Bed Bath and Beyond, World Market, Eckerd Drugs, Storehouse Furniture, etc. (You can tell that this is a very chain-oriented section of Arlington -- few mom and pop type stores here.)

    For the Pentagon Row neighborhood, see: http://www.pentagonrow.com/. Adjacent to Pentagon Row is the Pentagon City mall, which is actually where the subway station is located, and next to that (still within easy walking distance) are a number of additional big box retailers (including Costco).

    Another good example is the Clarendon neighborhood, which lacks the big box retailers, but has some of the stores that you are thinking of, including a Barnes and Noble and several of the upscale "bowl" stores (hard to believe that people need so many places to buy expensive bowls and silverware), plus the even more upscale Whole Foods market, which is now heavily concentrated in expensive urban areas throughout the DC metro (another new store currently being built in Old Town Alexandria).

    Can't find a website readily that lists the retailers there, but you can try:
    http://www.commuterpage.com/art/villages/clarendon.htm

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    There is a Chili's in downtown Walnut Creek, CA, along with a number of the other stores mentioned here. Fortunately, there are also a lot of good local cafes and shops mixed in.

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    There is a Chili's in downtown Walnut Creek, CA, along with a number of the other stores mentioned here. Fortunately, there are also a lot of good local cafes and shops mixed in.
    This is where I saw the Chili's! I've been racking my brain trying to remember where in California I had seen these! The Chili's in Marble Falls, TX is in their central business district, but it still looks significantly like their standard building with modifications because it is lake front. Not sure if Walnut Creek is where I saw the hotel though... I've heard rumors of a boutique hotel going into the Southlake Town Square northeast of Fort Worth. I think the Denny's or IHOP I saw might have been on my trip to North Carolina some time back, but I'm not entirely sure.

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    Cyburbian PlanBoston's avatar
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    New 2 story Kohl's

    Quote Originally posted by iamme
    I have seen and shopped in one two story kohls. It is one of the three remaining anchors (out of the original four) at Southridge Mall in Greendale, WI(Milwaukee, WI metro). I'm not sure if they've had much success with this or whether it is a unique situation that they have yet to rectify...
    There is a two story Kohl's in a new lifestyle center in Canton, CT. It's been open for about a year. It was easy for them to justify the two story arrangement because of the slope of the land. They have a front entrance on the first floor and a side entrance to the side parking lot on the second floor. I'm sure a two story Kohl's could work in a downtown, as long as there's a sea of parking nearby.

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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    large supermarkets will never show up in this setting... Also, I generally don't believe home improvement stores will show up in downtowns because the products are so big/heavy that they would be hard to transport long distances to your car.
    Vancouver has lots of examples of stacked big boxes, including a relatively big IGA Marketplace grocery store (with condos above). A downtown Costco is also on the way, if you can believe it. I am wondering how folks are going to store 80 rolls of toilet paper in their 800 sf apartments, but we'll see.

    Home Depot is experimenting with "boutique" models here, including a neat one in West Vancouver. Although it's still in a lifestyle mall rather than a downtown, it is of a smaller size than usual and would fit in a downtown easily.

    You don't have to transport anything to your car. All these downtown stores include delivery service now.

    Incidentally, all these examples have relatively little parking, and all of it is underground.

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    Cyburbian Dashboard's avatar
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    Downtown East Lansing has a Barnes & Noble and had a nice Gap store before it closed in December 2004. It closed because of three other Gap stores in the area. The downtown Gap was unable to compete with the mall-based locations and finally closed.

    EL currently also has a Buffalo Wild Wings, Moosejaw Mountaineering, Starbucks, and a Coldstone Creamer mixed in with its other shops and restaurants.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dashboard
    EL currently also has a Buffalo Wild Wings, Moosejaw Mountaineering, Starbucks, and a Coldstone Creamer mixed in with its other shops and restaurants.
    You forgot to mention the Green/White version of Steve and Barry's. Has this store taken off or what? Are these found in other parts of the country or is this just a cheap Michigan thing?

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    Are these found in other parts of the country or is this just a cheap Michigan thing?
    Nope....there is at least one here in the near west suburbs of Chicago. A rather large Steve & Barry's in the North Riverside Mall in North Riverside, IL.

    I was rather amazed (for a moment) to see it, but then realized I live the centripetal center of the Big Ten region.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michiganplanner
    In some places the model never changed or "something" else happened to make them stay.
    I give you Petoskey and Owosso, MI. Both have had JC Penney stores in their downtowns for many years.
    Lincoln Park, MI has one downtwon as well.

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    Big Box-Small Stage

    I think we are looking for the human scale wherever we go. I see "new downtowns" being created in Indiana and am sorely disappointed in that the municipalities are not marketing what they have, albeit they are having to pander to the automobile, creating the veritable city center perambulation in the middle of a cornfield. Two stories and sharing walls are charming and no less accessable to their sprawl counterparts, traffic be damned. In the larger malls, the two level department store harkens back to a time when people dressed up to shop and ate lunch at the store's restaurant. Something Nordstrom has not forgotten; something that Walmart has dumbed down in a partnership with McDonalds. What a shame.
    I think it can be done. Perhaps we need to treat our developers as Chris Bangle treats his customers: taking them somewhere they do not want to go. He has sold an amazing number of BMWs in that vein.

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    Cyburbian
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    What type of suburban downtown are we talking about

    Are we talking about faux downtowns, rundown suburban downtown, or the insanly upscale sunurban downtown with a Williams Sonoma and a Restoration Hardware (Winter Park, FL)?

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by whit_x
    Are we talking about faux downtowns, rundown suburban downtown, or the insanly upscale sunurban downtown with a Williams Sonoma and a Restoration Hardware (Winter Park, FL)?
    I'm mainly talking any kind of real, established, existing suburban downtown, whether run-down or not, but preferably one that's one the upswing.
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          Shweethaht's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by whit_x
    Are we talking about faux downtowns, rundown suburban downtown, or the insanly upscale sunurban downtown with a Williams Sonoma and a Restoration Hardware (Winter Park, FL)?
    The faux downtown is what we're getting instead of the real downtown with the actual character, style and human scale that makes for great design and planning. I just don't think the Big Boxes get that...

  25. #25

    Can be part of a "Great American City"

    Burlington, VT has a one-story Old Navy, two-story Border's Books, and a three-level Pier One in its Church Street Marketplace and I think they all work very well intertwined with the smaller stores and the locally owned shoppes. In the late 90's, Burlington received the "Great American Main Street Award." This is most likely due to the success of Church Street.

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