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Thread: Thinking outside of the big box

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Thinking outside of the big box

    An idea/question that came to me recently:
    What, if any, steps are being taken by traditional "big box store" retailers (Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc) to transplant their traditional model of suburban stores to urban areas? What steps are being taken by communities to allow for this to happen? Do certain aspects of codes/comp plans need to be modified for it?

    I know that Whole Foods is no stranger to this (I've been to urban stores in both DC and LA), and there's also a Safeway in DC (I want to say Columbia Heights, but I might be wrong) that is built up to the sidewalk, but a traditional store design nonetheless. There's also the original 34th Street Macy's, but I'm not sure if this counts, seeing as it is from a time when downtown, not the local mall, was the main source of retail.


    Urban whole foods, DC


    Best Buy, New York City

    If anyone knows of any more, please add them!
    "It's human nature, you can't do anything about that" - Alan Greenspan

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  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I can add a couple examples of 'Urban' Whole Foods stores.

    1. Laguna Beach, CA. 1.5 blocks from the beach right downtown.

    2. Detroit, MI. One is under construction on Mack Ave at John R. This is across from the Medical Center (a complex of six hospitals, a medcal school, and related office buildings/apartments). It is also not far from Wayne State University and the Cultural Center.

    I am unsure of what needed to be done to zoning to allow it. There are currently smaller markets operating near the Detroit location that are built right up to the street. I know the City spent quite a bit of time courting it, as there is a Myth that there are no real grocery stores in the city (though there are ALDI, Spartan distributor stores, quite a few independant markets, and of course one of the oldest and largest Farmer's Markets/specialty store areas in North America.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Boston has:

    A BestBuy on Mass Ave

    A Whole Foods in the Fenway

    Both were built out in existing buildings.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Take a look at the Best Buy and Target in Columbia Hieghts, the DC USA shopping complex.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    WholeFoods recently built in downtown Portland's periphery, but it is still largely suburban in layout. I believe their website also says that it is part of their mission to develop in underutilized urban blighted areas where the city has made a commitment to re-investment or community planning (something along these lines anyway).

    I think St. Paul has a multi level Target downtown, which is where that store originated from if I'm not mistaken (or was it Minneapolis?).

    To answer your other question aboust aspects of codes/plans that may help: I think any form based code, which de-emphasizes use, might help get or at least allow a large retailer in appropriate structures. Regulating by stories rather than height ensures the buildings won't build their traditional model (which doesn't work in a downtown anyway).

    The target store in Minneapolis: http://www.google.com/imgres?um=1&hl...1t:429,r:0,s:0

    Also see Burlington, VT's downtown mall -- the Burlington Town Center, two levels of downtown urban approriate big retailers supported by structured parking. Lifestyle centers also try to approximate this sometimes, like that adjacent to Freeport, Maine's main street--Freeport Village Center, a TOD

  6. #6
    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    There is a very urban Target and Best Buy complex at Santa Monica Blvd. and La Brea Avenue in West Hollywood, CA. I don’t know what the city did to modify their code (if they had to) to allow it, but it’s a nice shopping center… smaller stores are along the main road frontages, and the parking garage is in the rear of the complex.

    http://g.co/maps/vh6ac

  7. #7
    A business article in Forbes today. Best Buy is phasing out its big box stores and will be opening up smaller stores going forward. It would be great if the some of the new stores opened up in existing retail spaces downtown look like the one posted in this thread.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    A Home Depot™ and a Guitar Center™, Halsted and Schubert, Chicago:

    (Looking north on Halsted St)
    http://maps.google.com/?ll=41.930471...30.17,,0,-3.37

    (Looking south from Schubert Ave)
    http://maps.google.com/?ll=41.931676...48.42,,0,-5.27

    Enjoy!

    Mike

  9. #9
    Member
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    Cambie Street, Vancouver BC,

    Hi,

    Cambie Street, between 7th avenue and Broadway in Vancouver, has a number of new big box stores, including a Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Save on Foods, Best Buy and Winners/Homesense. The buildings are about 5 years old, and were note worthy at the time for being some of the first urban big box stores in Canada. The Save on Foods, Winners, Home Depot combo are typical Vancouver construction style of commercial/retail space at the bottom few floors (the podium) and residential condominiums up above. Canadian Tire/Best Buy are strictly retail.

    See the Google street view link below:
    http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=cambie+...106.82,,0,-0.7

  10. #10
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Wow thats the biggest, prettiest Canadian Tire ever!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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