August 11, 2014

The Daily Scot: Dying before birth

Scot sent an item of particular relevance for this region:

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The Fate Of America’s Dying Supercenters

” Just about every major trend we’re following right now bodes poorly for power center retail,”  Doug Stephens,  founder of industry website  Retail Prophet  and author of ” The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism ” told Business Insider.

Americans are driving less than they have in decades. Populations are flocking to smaller, urban communities over sprawling suburbs. And consumers in their 20s and 30s increasingly prefer small, local shops to big-box retail.

The proliferation of e-commerce also means that consumers can order many products online rather than having to drive to the store.

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So what will happen to this:

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tsawwassen-mills-aerial

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This is Tsawwassen Mills, still under construction (map here) – one of the first major developments on Tsawwassen First Nation Lands following treaty negotiations.  And a very bad precedent.

Urbanists have been reluctant to criticize this project (or Ivanhoé Cambridge, the developer), given the sensitivity around First Nations treaties – but from a regional planning and sustainability perspective, it is already a failure.

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Comments

  1. I never thought that this thing would get built because it just doesn’t make sense. But obviously it did get built, do it must make sense to somebody. (Another oddity is the McArthur Glen development by the airport of discount fashion stores – another thing that makes no sense to me.)

    The only thing that I have some up with is the newness factor. Even with increasing online shopping, there are some things will stay in the flesh: bulk goods, tactile goods, and shopping experiences. Bulk goods will surely stay on the ground because it isn’t cost effective to send tins of tuna in the mail. Tactile goods need to be touched or tried on before purchase. And shopping experiences are places to visit for their entertainment value. Crate & Barrel does this well. It’s just an enticing place to be when you are having a materialist urges. Developments that are new have some of this entertainment value because there are new stores to explore and things to buy that you didn’t have access to before. But when the newness factor wears off, both the Mill and the Glen will have to re-invent or we will be left with two more Lougheed Malls.

    On advantage that malls do have over traditional retail streets is the ability to control the experience as a whole. They are able to let out stores that will attract customers and avoid stores that will be dead zones or detract from the quality of the whole street. I sometimes think that Robson would do better as a strictly retail street if one developer owned all the stores for the two key blocks. This advantage is something to consider in large new developments. For instance if a large amount of new retail were built on the Flats as part of a major redevelopment, they could be sold off as chunks, a block or two at at time. (Even though it might make for a better retail street in some ways, the whole of a shopping area should never be sold to one developer to avoid a monopoly and a monoculture.)

    But what doesn’t make sense in any way is the desire to go greenfield with these developments. There is a whole huge parking lot in front of the original Lougheed Mall that is begging to be put underground – yes they are doing this even in Richmond – and have new stuff built on it. Why make people trek to Tsawwassen or the airport.