moderator in moderation
My city is in the process of doing a Comprehensive Plan. Part of what we're looking at is developing a "town center." Currently, we do not have any kind of business district with the exception of some strip developments along the highway. I think the steering committee is looking for an old-style downtown area: buildings close to the street, wide sidewalks, apts above businesses, mixed use in surrounding areas, etc. I've seen other cities do this and end up with an outdoor mall containing stores like GAP, Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie and Banana Republic. I think the citizens would like to have some local shops in the development, too. My question is how do you put something like this together with franchises without ending up with inflated rents that keep local businesses from moving in? Also, is there a way to do these new "old downtowns" without making them look to artificial? Thanks for your help!