• By Drew Romanic, The Martin Architectural Group

Re-Visioning Retail, One Center at a Time

The world of retail is ever-changing and exceedingly fickle. Neighborhood centers, once the heart of the suburban retail landscape, have been challenged by malls, lifestyle centers, town centers, and power centers, all of which are a derivation or adaptation of the neighborhood center formula. Oftentimes the original grocery-anchored neighborhood center sees itself outpaced and out-positioned by newer centers with superstores, offering both dry goods and groceries, as their anchors. At the same time, the renaissance of urban centers coupled with shifting demographics is generating a resurgence in urban and near urban areas. Just as several big box retailers are reformatting to fit into urban markets, even going vertical to accomplish this, there is still hope for the neighborhood center to be revitalized if the location is sound. Through the evolution of the suburbs, and their expansion made possible by the automobile, many markets eventually created “B” and “C” centers and malls which are now seeing a decline in use. These properties are still viable, but require a courageous and resourceful caretaker, aided by the design team, to repurpose and re-vision the property. The intent of these projects should be creating a place for people to shop, dine, enjoy, and relax. The added opportunity to live and work in a newly refurbished community inserts a population into the property and provides a more compact lifestyle, saving time and energy and shifting it toward leisure and personal endeavors.



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