In a West End town, a dead end world | streets.mn

Cross-posted at streets.mn: In a West End town, a dead end world:

“When I first heard about the new development called the Shops at West End (WE), the Pet Shop Boys played in my head. My vision of The West End came from London, roughly the area between Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross. They are not similarly located, London’s version is substantially closer to the City (2.2 miles) than the St. Louis Park version is to Nicollet Mall (4.2 miles). The spatial location similarities fell short, but as in its London namesake, WE is a restaurant and theatre district. Minnesota’s version opened as a new open-air shopping center at the northern end of St. Louis Park, roughly at the Southwest corner of the Junction I-394 and MN 100 in 2009. Now almost 4 years old, how well does WE work?

In a West End town, a dead end world

 

When I first heard about the new development called the Shops at West End (WE), the Pet Shop Boys played in my head. My vision of The West End came from London, roughly the area between Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross. They are not similarly located, London’s version is substantially closer to the City (2.2 miles) than the St. Louis Park version is to Nicollet Mall (4.2 miles). The spatial location similarities fell short, but as in its London namesake, WE is a restaurant and theatre district. Minnesota’s version opened as a new open-air shopping center at the northern end of St. Louis Park, roughly at the Southwest corner of the Junction I-394 and MN 100 in 2009. Now almost 4 years old, how well does WE work?

Below are some photos taken mid-day on an unseasonably nice Minnesota spring day. The site is not fully leased, as noted in this Biz Journal’s series of articles. The parking ramp is far from full.

The development into a real community remains unfinished, but while on-site it resembles the veneer of a Main Street (see this map), it is poorly connected with any of the neighboring retail parcels (including a Big Box center featuring a Costco and Home Depot across the street), and even the onsite offices are separated by a fortress of parking ramps.

The poor connections are not entirely the developer’s fault, the neighboring developments were designed without West End in mind, and geared to automobile travelers (go figure, located at the interchange of two major freeways). The onsite offices could have easily been above the shops, so that office workers passed the stores going into and out of work. This ground floor retail would have increased pedestrian traffic compared with the current layout (at the expense of fully climate controlled travel for lessees of the office space).

So the internal without respect to the external is inherently hampered. The site itself acknowledges all of its customers are drive up, it features several significant parking structures. The structures do dump pedestrians onto the Main Street (West End Boulevard), but the interface is far from seamless, with some longish unpleasant-ish, malodorous walks within the structure, so while it tries to play nice between car and pedestrian, it falls short. West End Boulevard aims for the shopping street experience, but it still gives more real estate to the movement and storage of cars than pedestrians. West End Boulevard is no Shaftesbury Avenue (which itself was a 19th century slum clearance measure, so some good can come of urban renewal in the right hands and given enough time).

With some artistry, the West End could be tied into future redevelopments of neighboring sites, but I don’t see it happening, this suburb is too far gone, street grids are too hard to reorganize, and no good East-West corridor was established through the site. At a larger scale, St. Louis Park is dissected by both freeways and railroad tracks. Driving from Excelsior and Grand to The Shops at West End is 4.4 miles, and for all practical purposes requires freeway use. Walking is given as 3.4 miles, but is on the circuitous side, requiring 7 turns.

Back at the WE, trees are under-developed (The developer could have installed older trees). More significantly, West End Boulevard is too narrow, and as a result, has too much shade and too little sunlight, even in the middle of the day. A wider street would have helped in this regard.

The roads and sidewalks are bricked, and not just brick highlights, but a fully bricked road. In a different climate, this might survive. I have doubts this will age well under traffic and Minnesota winters. The main street is not straight. It could have been straight, but the developer chose curvy. This seems to be popular in shopping malls now (so you can’t see the end, there is excitement at every bend, there is more retail surface area), but it feels wrong at this scale, like it’s wobbly. Part of the problem is its narrowness. Of course all grids must bend at some point (the earth is not flat), but this short turning gives it a more suburban feeling in what is supposed be an urban-like (or urban-lite) experience. The real streets that West End Boulevard parallels (Duke Drive, Park Place Boulevard) are straighter, and oriented for the movement of cars.

The shops are not unique. I visited solely because of the multiplex movie theatre, which are getting more difficult to find in the cities. The theatre itself is upstairs in one building, which I guess makes sense, as no need to waste ground-floor retail on such a large structure, and I have seen this model in Town Centres in and around London. On the other hand, I passed the entrance before I figured out it was the theatre, the signage is not at all obvious at ground level, and the large highway-oriented signs suggest a different location for the entrance.

While the West End is not scheduled to get any significant transit stations any time soon (just like St. Louis Park’s other signature retail development: Excelsior and Grand), and unlike London’s counterpart, where you can’t turn around without falling into an Underground Station, there is a small park and ride lot one block north of the site at Park Place Boulevard and I-394. If this corridor were turned into a full-fledged Freeway Bus-Rapid Transit system (like the Red and Orange lines, as suggested by the Purple Line on this map by Kyril Negoda), there would be a natural station here. And BRT is technically quite feasible, what with the HOT lanes already in place. Tying that station into a real fine-grained local street network at the interchange may be the planners’ hope, but there is a lot of market coordination required to achieve that.

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Cities sans shopping

The End of Traffic and the Future of Access: A Roadmap to the New Transport Landscape. By David M. Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek.
The End of Traffic and the Future of Access: A Roadmap to the New Transport Landscape. By David M. Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek.

StripCenter

Before the advent of civilization, there was little trade and few “stores”. We did not “store” much, we went and hunted or gathered what we needed. Once we invented agriculture, we invented storage, and surplus, and extended trade. We held inventory. Once we sold inventories from fixed locations in exchange for what become money, retailing was invented.

A while ago I wrote this:

Some nuance on language.

Shop: wiktionary: From Middle English shoppe, from Old English sceoppa (“booth”)

  1. An establishment that sells goods or services to the public; originally a physical location, but now a virtual establishment as well.
  2. A place where things are crafted; a workshop or hobbyshop.
  3. An automobile mechanic’s workplace.
  4. Workplace; office. Used mainly in expressions such as shop talk, closed shop and shop floor.

Store: wiktionary:  Etymology from Latin instaurare – (“erect, establish”). store

  1. A place where items may be accumulated or routinely kept.
  2. A supply held in storage.
  3. (mainly North American) A place where items may be purchased.

A shop is a place where things are worked on (and sold), a store is a place where things are kept (and sold). We go shopping but we don’t go storing, we come home and store the things we got from the larger store.

The idea of a store, where things that we may need are stored and distributed, is ultimately one of sharing community resources. I may need tools at some point, but rather than own all the tools I might need, there is a hardware store which sells things on a just-in-time basis to consumers. Who owns the hardware store (an individual, a firm, a cooperative) is secondary to the necessity of such a function to achieve economies of scale and ensure variety. If there were no stores, we would need to store everything we might need, and would need to truck and barter for goods with their makers, a much less efficiency system.

The idea of a shop is just the place where the trade takes place. Implicitly, a store holds lots of things, a shop is just a place for the transaction or some local repair work. This is somewhat lost in modern usage, but we still have hardware stores and grocery stores (which are relatively large), but dress shops, tailor shops, auto shops (which at least the first two are relatively small, and the latter two refer to where things are done rather than already made things are sold).

Both of these functions are necessary in urban systems. We  need both places to store items we may need in the future (and then acquire them when needed), and we need shop-places to work on things, making them, repairing them, altering them.  With the move toward a disposable society, where it costs more to fix things (which is a laborious process) than make them (which is often automated), the share of space devoted to shops rather than stores has declined. Proposition Joe is in a declining business (“Shine that up and put $7.50 on it… Shame to let a good toaster go to waste over a frayed cord” – Proposition Joe, The Wire)

Where these things are located relative to where people and live and work depends on the frequency of use. We want things we want frequently (e.g. milk), to be closer than things we want infrequently (e.g. furniture). But closer and farther are relative not absolute terms. They depend on context: location with respect to others (density or community demand), the cost of travel (technology), frequency of use (individual demand), and so on. Relative locations have changed over time as density, technology, and demand have changed.

While transactions are here to stay, if only for the raw materials needed to operate our 3D printers, “going shopping” in the physical world may have peaked.

American Time Use Survey, Purchasing Goods and Services Trends
American Time Use Survey, Purchasing Goods and Services Trends

The American Time Use Survey shows a drop in time spent “purchasing goods and services) from 2003 (0.81 hours) to 2008 (0.77 hours) to 2009 (0.72 hours) to  2010 (0.75 hours) to 2011 (0.72 hours). 0.09 hours per day may not seem like much, and this is only a few years trend, and there is some volatility, but it is consistent with what we know about the rest of the world.

To the extent I can operate in a de-materialized world, where fetching is replaced by delivery (especially by automated delivery), the amount of shopping (and naturally, the space devoted to shopping) will shrink. This is counter-balanced by the trends toward greater income (which has to be spent on something) and more time (which also has to be spent on something), for which retail may be an attractive solution. But this turns retail into a service and entertainment activity more than a transactional one.

In Chapter 9 of Planning for Place and Plexus, we write about: The rise (and fall) and rise (and fall?) of door-to-door delivery

Door-to-door delivery differs from door-to-door sales. The delivery requires only a catalog (be it paper or electronic) and some way of getting the order and finances from the consumer to the manufacturer and the goods from the manufacturer back to the consumer.

The enabler for this type of exchange was the U.S. Post Office’s Rural Free Delivery (RFD). The need for RFD lay in several factors. The remoteness of rural America meant 30 million residents had to travel to town to pick up their mail. The poor quality of roads made this difficult. Postmaster General (and department store founder) John Wanamaker pushed for RFD, which began in the 1890s, and after experimentation it was finally inaugurated in 1896 in West Virginia and ramped up to 29 states. By 1901, Congress made RFD permanent. RFD had several effects. One is that it gave added weight behind federal involvement in the good roads movement. Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution gives Congress the power “To establish Post Offices and post Roads”; though federal aid for state roads did not really begin until 1913, and did not get going until 1916.

A second effect is that retailers like Montgomery Ward, L.L. Bean, Charles Tiffany, W.A. Burpee, and of course Sears, Roebuck & Company took advantage of RFD. Especially with the addition of parcel service to traditional postal service, the mail order catalog business took off. Sears, which had been publishing specialty catalogs since 1888, issued its first general merchandise catalog, the “Big Book”, in 1896, whose Christmas edition came to be known as the “Wish Book”. The catalog truly was general merchandise, selling cars by catalog from 1909 to 1913 and bungalow houses from 1908 until the Great Depression. In fact, Sears didn’t open its first retail store until 1925, and the general Big Book catalog was discontinued in 1993 (Sears 2004), notably before the widespread adoption of the World Wide Web.

By the time Sears was scaling back its catalog business, mail order, along with toll free numbers, had become a booming industry. The emerging internet saw the rise of numerous e-commerce vendors. Amazon.com (founded 1994) and eBay (founded 1995) relied both on the post office, as well as express carriers such as Federal Express (founded 1971) and United Parcel Service (founded 1907). Jupiter (2004) estimates US online sales at $65 Billion, growing to $117 Billion by 2008, which will amount to about 5% of all retail sales, although the online sector is growing faster than traditional retailing.

Online research influences a great deal of offline purchases, but what is missing from online sales are things that are widely consumed without much research, like supermarket food items, as well as items like gasoline that are impractical to deliver. Many have tried to extend the reach of online purchasing to replace the supermarket, recalling the milkman of yore, but companies such as Webvan did not succeed. Webvan, which attracted more venture capital than any internet retailer except Amazon.com, delivered food to customers in seven cities, and established a new warehouse distribution system (Paying $1 Billion to Bechtel for this) in each of those cities. It acquired rival startup Home Grocer, but wound up spending money faster than it could earn it for long enough that it had to declare bankruptcy July 10, 2001, after the peak in the stock market bubble (but before 9/11). Even more ambitious, Kozmo.com, which served seven cities, promised free one-hour delivery for a variety of goods from videos to coffee and ice cream ordered online. Unlike Webvan, Kozmo.com never went public, lasting from 1998 to April 2001. Webvan like services (Peapod and Simon Delivers, among others) do remain, with lower capital costs. Whether these are profitable remains to be seen.

But we now see a second run at making delivery of even perishable items standard. Amazon, Google, and others are trying to figure out a workable model that is cheaper than the USPS, Federal Express and UPS for same-day delivery.

The more that is delivered, the less that is fetched. Shopping transitions from the real to virtual, and some, if not all, of the space that was devoted to shopping (14.2 billion square feet) will need to disappear. [For perspective, the Mall of America is 4.2 million square feet, of which 2.5 million is retail. So US retail is basically 3000 Malls of America.]

Fortunately, a lot of the retail that will disappear is, for lack of a better word, crap. We all know the dumpy strip malls that besot our landscape. First they will lower rents. Second they will be abandoned. Then they will be replaced. As with many of these processes, there will be a rich get richer phenomenon, the few remaining retail centers may continue to grow, as the experience of shopping (requiring many many choices) replaces the necessity of shopping. The commodity distributors will be replaced by commodity deliverers if the cost of distributions can be flipped so that delivery is cheap enough. But people still need to leave home, if only to get out of the house. Looking at things is a good excuse. This suggests artisans and crafts, and things that are more attractive in person than online will be the things that motivate us to leave the home-work axis for alternative destinations. The purchase of stocks like paper towels will rarely be enough to get us out of our chairs.

But with what will we replace the losers?

These are the tear-downs. To the extent they still have good transport access, they might remain commercial, or be appropriate for high density residential. On University Avenue along the Central Corridor, abandoned retail is being transitioned to new residential construction.

I don’t expect many parks or single-family homes, since these are still relatively prime locations from an accessibility perspective, and along transportation corridors. While the highest and best use may not be retail stores, there are still other activities that benefit from locations that are easily reached.

Just-in-time consumption: Does the `pint of milk test’ hold water?

Cross-posted from streets.mn: Just-in-time consumption: Does the `pint of milk test’ hold water?

“As with stores, houses too are getting larger over the long run. New suburban homes have more space to store goods in-house. While urban residents export storage to common stores, suburban residents more likely to have second freezers, have more space to store stuff.”

Just-in-time consumption: Does the `pint of milk test’ hold water?

Just-in-time production revolutionized manufacturing, enabling both a reduction in inventories as supplies arrive only shortly before needed, and an improvement in quality as poorly made inputs are no longer stored for long periods of time, but can be quickly identified and feedback provided to the supplier. The widespread adoption of the just-in-time process is itself the product of the logistics revolution, information and communications technologies, containerization in shipping, and the modern freeway system. It has seen a concomitant change in the retail sector, which has brought about fewer and larger stores at a greater distance from the end consumer.The notion of “just-in-time consumption”, (acquisition of a good by the end consumer shortly before its use, rather than being acquired and stored for future use) though seemingly a natural mirror to the more widely used “just-in-time production” has not received the same attention. The phrase itself, only generates 212K hits in Google, (significantly higher than 2007, and of which the original version of this post rates #2) of which only a few are on-point, in comparison to over 2.23M for “just-in-time production”.Yet many goods and services are already consumed in a just-in-time manner. Most notable is energy, which is delivered on-demand to users, who no longer store coal at home for the furnace, but instead buy natural gas or electricity as needed. (The slowly vanishing home heating oil remains an exception). Other services that are provided on-demand or just-in-time include water and sewer, communications (internet, telephony, and television). What is in common about these disparate technologies is their network nature, the large infrastructure required to enable using the flows on-demand. While sewer is a continuous service for most people (those who do not have septic tanks), garbage is typically only collected periodically (e.g. once a week), and recycling less so (e.g. fortnightly).Other goods once saw regular to-the-house delivery, especially in suburban areas. Foxell [2005] writes of goods and services found in Metro-land, the idyllic north London suburbs built by the Metropolitan railway in the early twentieth century:

“This service economy is illustrated by the variety of tradesmen that called at our home: the milkman twice a day, with a horse-drawn cart; the baker once a day, with a large upright barrow on two wheels, the handles of which lifted him off the ground when going down hill; the postman thrice; the butcher’s boy by bicycle twice a week; and the grocer twice a week. Others like the coalman or the Gas, Light & Coke Co. in their steam-powered Sentinel lorry also made regular deliveries. Over a longer period, visits could be expected from the men from the Prudential [insurance], Hoover [vacuum cleaners], Singer [sewing machines] and the like – all using a service call to take the opportunity to sell new products. There was something reassuring about seeing such familiar faces and catching up with the latest gossip. In addition there were the itinerant callers such as Walls Ice Cream man on his tricycle as well as the French onion sellers, gypsies with pegs and posies, rag and bone men, tinkers [metalsmiths] and the knife-sharpeners with their pedal-driving grinding wheels.”

Today, the vast majority of those goods are not acquired at home but in stores or online. Delivery services have replaced salesmen, as the two functions (delivery and sales) are now distinct and specialized. Today’s visitors might be the post office, FedEx or UPS, and the pizza delivery boy.

Just-in-time does not require delivery to the residence, it can involve ubiquity in the placement of stores, so that they are near the end consumer. Traditionally the retail store was just that, a place where a community could store goods, and individuals could take or buy them as needed. A new model of temporary lockers may emerge to fill the gap.

SPONTANEOUS ACCESS: REFLEXIONS ON DESIGNING CITIES AND TRANSPORT by David Levinson
SPONTANEOUS ACCESS: REFLEXIONS ON DESIGNING CITIES AND TRANSPORT by David Levinson

Many planners would like to make the ability to acquire goods just-in-time without the use of a vehicle a normative planning standard. For instance, a report, Beyond 2010: A Holistic Approach to Road Safety in Great Britain calls for the “pint of milk test”, for all new developments, whereby a resident can get to a shop to buy a pint of milk in 10 minutes or less without getting in their car [Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety, 2007]. The idea of 10 minutes comes from people’s willingness to walk, people are less willing to walk longer distances than shorter, and 10 minutes (or one-half mile (0.8 km)) seems to be a threshold over which walking tolerance seems to drop. This distance was derived from several empirical studies, including Pushkarev and Zupan [n.d.], who showed the median walk by travelers accessing the New York subway was 0.35 mi (0.57 km), while the median walk to access commuter rail stations in suburban New Jersey was 0.5 to 0.6 mi (0.8 – 1.0 km). Results from the 1983/84 National Personal Transportation Survey reported by Unterman [1990] found shorter distances: 70 percent of Americans will walk 500 feet (0.15 km) for normal daily trips, 40 percent walk 1,000 feet (0.31 km), and only 10 percent walk a half-mile (0.8 km).The pint of milk refers to a standard quantity of a highly perishable and frequently consumed good. The objective of avoiding car use is obvious for a group advocating road safety. The pint of milk test has received some currency in England, being noted by several studies in recent years [Bennett and Morris, 2006, Marsh, 2004]. This is a particular issue in a crowded city like London, where auto ownership is lower than suburban areas, roads are more crowded, and parking more difficult even for those with a car.

The trends in retailing have been clear in the United States for a long time. Stores are over the long term getting larger and gaining larger market areas [Yim, 1990]. Small stores serving local areas have been losing market share to larger stores which bring with them economies of scale. Efforts to reverse this trend have met with resistance from retailers, consumers, and neighbors [Nelson and Niles, 1999].

Illustrating this trend, the Food Marketing Institute reports in 2011 there were 36,569 supermarkets (with $2 million in sales or more, noting the median annual sales for a supermarket was $17 million, and average size was 46,000 sq. ft. (slightly down form a 2005 peak of 48,058, indicating an increasing number of smaller markets in recent years, but nowhere near retracing the long march upward). The average number of trips per week consumers make to the supermarket was up to 2.2. (from 1.9 in 2006).

In 1930, The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, at the time the leading US supermarket, alone had 16,000 stores with a combined revenue of $1 billion (or per store revenue of $62,500 in 1930 dollars, estimated to be $754,000 today) [The Rise and Decline of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea company, n.d.]

Handy [1993] claims “the automobile instigated a collapse of the retail hierarchy by encouraging the growth of community and regional centers at the expense of local shops and the central business district. The result has been a cycle of dependence, in which suburban communities are designed for the automobile leaving residents little choice but to drive.”

As with stores, houses too are getting larger over the long run. New suburban homes have more space to store goods in-house. While urban residents export storage to common stores, suburban residents more likely to have second freezers, have more space to store stuff.

While the number of freezers per household in the United States is declining as second freezers are being retired and not replaced, the number of refrigerators is increasing slightly, due to households obtaining second refrigerators. [Wenzel et al., 1997]. While no immediate inference can be made about this, other trends are also at work. Total refrigerated and frozen space has not been computed, though the average size of a house’s primary refrigerator or freezer is likely increasing. Food may last longer in refrigerators than it used to due to the addition of preservatives (though the trend of increased consumption of organic foods may reverse this). Further globalization may mean that fewer goods are seasonal and need to be accumulated prior to their being out-of-season.

Persson and Bratt [2001] note that e-shopping may induce the installation of a second set of fridge/freezers per household to receive delivered goods. This additional electricity consumption has environmental consequences; already, there are 2.2 refrigerators and freezers per household in New Zealand (Roke, 2006) cited in [New Zealand Ministry for the Environment, n.d.].

If urban residents do undertake more just-in-time consumption than suburbanites both because of the higher storage costs associated with smaller houses, and the greater opportunity afforded by more stores nearby, we would expect to see this show up in the travel behavior data that is collected by urban regions.

variable Minneapolis St. Paul Remainder of Hennepin County
Year Structure Built 1926 1929 1970
Sq. Ft. 1773 1826 2152
Sq. Ft. per Person 822 755 810
Households with No Cars 5900 2800 2500

Table 1 illustrates some of the differences between the City of Minneapolis, suburban Hennepin County (Hennepin excluding the City of Minneapolis), and the City of St. Paul in neighboring Ramsey County. Residents of Minneapolis live in older houses (average year built of 1926 vs. 1970 in the suburbs) with 1773 square feet vs. 2152 in the suburbs. However because of the lower household size, city residents actually have slightly more area per person. Further Minneapolis residents are more likely to be carless.

According to the 2000/2001 Twin Cities Travel Behavior Inventory among residents of the City of Minneapolis, 12.8 percent of daily trips were for shopping 5 while for Hennepin County excluding the City of Minneapolis the number was 12.2 percent. Thus Minneapolitans devote 5 percent more of their trips to shopping than suburban Hennepin County residents.

Minneapolitans also make slightly more trips than their suburban brethren, 3.81 per day vs. 3.70 for suburban Hennepin. (The unpublished 2011 TBI will likely show significantly lower numbers here). Given the small differences and their temporal instability, it probably is unreasonable to make much of them.

The evidence supports the hypothesis that city residents who have somewhat higher accessibility (see Figure) to neighborhood stores and somewhat reduced storage space at home shop more frequently.

A2D2005WalkToGrocery

Broadly, there are two types of places, those that satisfy the pint of milk test, and those that don’t. Similarly, there are two kinds of people, those who care about the pint of milk test and those who don’t. The problem comes from the mismatch of those who care but live in places that are unsatisfactory. (Those who don’t care but live in places passing the test are probably okay). If self-selection is at work, these cells are not randomly distributed, but people who want to live in particular environments do so. People who prefer milk-accessible areas bid up prices in those areas, while those who are indifferent (or perhaps lactose-intolerant) move out. However, if preferences change faster than spatial structure, there may be a mismatch.

Policy that excludes mixture of residential and commercial development may also foster a mismatch.

Evidence from the Twin Cities bears on the issue (Figures 2 to 5). According to the American Housing Survey [US Census Bureau, n.d.], over 80 percent of residents in the City of Minneapolis report satisfactory neighborhood shopping within a mile of home, compared with 70 percent of those in suburban Hennepin County (Figure 2). Despite that positive assessment of shopping, suburban Hennepin residents have a better opinion of their own neighborhood than those in the City of Minneapolis (Figure 3). The problems these urbanites report in greater numbers than their suburban counterparts are noise and traffic, crime, and odors (Figure 4).

SatisfactoryShopping

Comparison

UrbanProblems

Opinion

When people move, they are doing so to places they believe are better, but for all residents it is the home that is better than previous much more so than the neighborhood, and in Minneapolis, only a third rate their current neighborhood as better than their previous (in contrast to half of suburban residents) (Figure 5).

To the extent neighborhood shopping enabling just-in-time consumption of the pint of milk is important to people, cities fare better than their suburbs, but if the cost of that neighborhood shopping is other urban ills, people will make the trade-off, sacrificing access to retail to have access to quiet and congestion free, safe, and pleasantly smelling suburban environments.

Whether this is a social good is another question entirely, and depends on relative efficiency of urban goods delivery services, energy efficiency of in-store displays vs. at-home refrigeration units, and numerous other questions.

References

  • Bennett, J. Morris, J. 2006 , Gateway people, Technical report, Institute for Public Policy Research.
  • Foxell, C. 2005 , Rails to Metro-Land., Clive Foxell, Chesham, Bucks, England.
  • Handy, S. 1993 , “A Cycle of Dependence: Automobiles, Accessibility, and the Evolution of the Transportation and Retail Hierarchies”, Berkeley Planning Journal , Vol. 8, pp. 21-43.
  • Heiskanen, E. Jalas, M. 2000 , Dematerialization Through Services: A Review and Evaluation of the Debate, Ministry of Environment: Edita, jakaja.
  • Herman, R., Ardekani, S. Ausubel, J. 1990 , “Dematerialization”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change , Vol. 38(3), pp. 333-347.
  • Marsh, G. 2004 , “Tesco piles ‘em high: Flats above supermarkets are a good buy”, The Times , Vol. June 18, 2004.
  • Nelson, D. Niles, J. 1999 , “Market Dynamics and Nonwork Travel Patterns; Obstacles to Transit-Oriented Development?”, Transportation Research Record , Vol. 1669, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, pp. 13-21.
  • New Zealand Ministry for the Environment n.d. , Technical report.
  • Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety 2007 , Beyond 2010: A Holistic Approach to Road Safety in Great Britain, Technical report, Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety. Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7046200.stm.
  • Persson, A. Bratt, M. 2001 , “Future CO 2 savings from on-line shopping jeopardised by bad planning”, Proceedings of the 2001 ECEEE Summer Study ÔFurther than Ever from Kyoto .
  • Pushkarev, B. Zupan, J. n.d. , “Where Transit Works: Urban Densities for Public Transportation”, Urban Transportation: Perspectives and Prospects , pp. 341-344.
  • The Rise and Decline of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea company n.d.
  • Unterman, D. 1990 , `Accommodating the Pedestrian: Adapting Towns and Neighborhoods for Walking and Bicycling. Personal Travel in the US, Vol. II: A Report of the Findings from 1983-1984 NPTS, Source Control Programs’.
  • US Census Bureau n.d. , American Housing Survey for the Minneapolis St. Paul Metropolitan Area, Technical report, US Census Bureau. 1998AHS: Minneapolis h170-98-9.
  • Wenzel, T., Koomey, J., Rosenquist, G., Sanchez, M. Hanford, J. 1997 , “Energy Data Sourcebook for the US Residential Sector”, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Report , Vol. 40297.
  • Wernick, I., Herman, R., Govind, S. Ausubel, J. 1996 , “Materialization and Dematerialization: Measures and Trends.”, Daedalus , Vol. 125(3), American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • Yim, Y. 1990 , The Relationship Between Transportation Services and Urban Activities: The Food Retail Distribution Case, PhD thesis, University of California, Institute of Transportation Studies.

Adapted and updated from a post on The Transportationist Nov. 8 2007.

2012 Best Mid-Late 20th Century Enclosed Shopping Mall: Mall of America | streets.mn

Cross-posted from streets.mn: 2012 Best Mid-Late 20th Century Enclosed Shopping Mall: Mall of America:

“What do most urbanists want? A lively, pedestrian realm, clean, free of automobiles, with a variety of activities, the ability to interact with others and randomly encounter friends and acquaintances. This is what the shopping mall gives.”

2012 Best Mid-Late 20th Century Enclosed Shopping Mall: Mall of America

 

When we at Streets.MN were dividing up who would write which “Best of” entry, no one else wanted shopping malls. One said “I’m cool with anything but the best indoor mall, since that doesn’t exist.”

What do most urbanists want? A lively, pedestrian realm, clean, free of automobiles, with a variety of activities, the ability to interact with others and randomly encounter friends and acquaintances. This is what the shopping mall gives.

While these malls tend to be surrounded by huge parking lots, and no one would, of choice, walk to them, this is what is required to provide this pedestrian realm and the residential densities at which most Americans want to live. With single-family housing densities, there just are not enough people within walking distance of anywhere to create a retail experience at a scale larger than a convenience store. We need motorized transportation to get people to large centers where we can get the variety we crave. In the downtowns of the 1890s — 1940s, this retail experience was enabled by the Streetcar. Since the advent of the climate-controlled indoor mall in the late 1950s, it has been the Automobile.

Minnesota’s claim to fame is the Mall. Edina’s Southdale was not the first shopping center, nor the first auto-oriented shopping center, nor the first shopping mall, but it was the first climate-controlled shopping mall. It, and the rest of the ‘Dale family (Rose, Brook (a sad story, that Brook), Ridge) were built by the Daytons (whatever became of them?). But that is not all, oh no, that is not all. After the destruction of the Superbowl non-champion Vikings first stadium in Bloomington, the site became home to the Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the United States (maybe).

When asked to come up with a symbol for the states as part of a Monopoly Here and Now edition, Americans in a survey selected Times Square for New York, San Francisco gets the Golden Gate Bridge, while for Minneapolis, Americans selected the Mall of America (which as all good Minneapolitans know, is in Bloomington). It is how the nation sees us. (The game is also appalling for its inclusion of 4 stadia, and one stadium plaza.)

Southdale http://www.mnhs.org/library/tips/history_topics/72southdale.html

Southdale, designed by Victor Gruen, was envisioned as a Town Center, and while surface parking was the first thing to surround it, it was not envisioned as the last. But it is only today, more than five decades later, that development adjacent to Southdale is finally being approved. Malcolm Gladwell talks more about Southdale here:

When Gruen first drew up the plans for Southdale, he placed the shopping center at the heart of a tidy four-hundred-and-sixty-three-acre development, complete with apartment buildings, houses, schools, a medical center, a park, and a lake. Southdale was not a suburban alternative to downtown Minneapolis. It was the Minneapolis downtown you would get if you started over and corrected all the mistakes that were made the first time around. “There is nothing suburban about Southdale except its location,” Architectural Record stated when it reviewed Gruen’s new creation. It is:

an imaginative distillation of what makes downtown magnetic: the variety, the individuality, the lights, the color, even the crowds—for Southdale’s pedestrian-scale spaces insure a busyness and a bustle. Added to this essence of existing downtowns are all kinds of things that ought to be there if downtown weren’t so noisy and dirty and chaotic—sidewalk cafés, art, islands of planting, pretty paving. Other shopping centers, however pleasant, seem provincial in contrast with the real thing—the city downtown. But in Minneapolis, it is the downtown that appears pokey and provincial in contrast with Southdale’s metropolitan character.

In Planning for Place and Plexus, we discussed the Evolution of Retail (adapted here):

The first-ever sales transaction has not been recorded, and probably went untaxed. As the first transaction, it certainly did not occur in a shopping center, and almost certainly did not take place in a store. It also likely did not involve money, which had yet to be invented, so it really was more of a barter-like procedure. [Though this is disputed, see Debt: the First 5000 years] This first trade was an invention on the order of the wheel. Some scientists have even speculated that the ability of modern humans to trade is what advantaged us over the Neanderthals, (otherwise larger and stronger, and already settled) and gave us the evolutionary push to put that competing species out-of-business, so to speak.

Moving forward tens of thousands of years from the extinction of the Neanderthals, the Greek Agora, which acted both as a marketplace and public gathering area, was developed, probably some time around 1000 BCE, the Agora in Athens became a public area during the administration of Solon (638-558 BCE). The Roman Forum too was a marketplace and public venue, and in the City of Rome, several specialized markets developed, such as the Forum Boarium, dedicated to the cattle trade. One reference identifies over 31 fora in Ancient Rome. Rome at this time traded with places as far away as China, across the Silk Road and with islands in the Indian Ocean, indicating a similarly evolved culture of markets and exchange throughout much of the world. Market squares later took their place in medieval Europe.

Shopping streets were of course common in urban areas. Enterprising retailers could transform the traffic brought by roads and bridges into customers. Even expensive transportation facilities would find themselves choked with stores, slowing transportation while quickening commerce. The medieval London Bridge is one of the more famous examples of a bridge that was covered with buildings such as retail, residences, and even churches. Opened during the reign of King John in 1209, it had taken 33 years to build. Eventually buildings up to seven stories high were built on this prime real estate. This bridge lasted until 1831, after a new bridge (without buildings) was constructed.

Permanent marketplaces were supplemented with temporary and traveling fairs. The first fairs have been dated to 500 BCE, and may have occurred earlier. Fairs were events where foreign traders could show their wares, and were often coupled with religious festivals, taking place at and around temples. The fair changed over many centuries, evolving into several different types of activities, ranging from world to state and county fairs to conventions and trade shows. They are now less a place for purchasing, and more for information exchange. In fact, the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), which specializes in agricultural events (like State Fairs), itself has an annual convention and trade show in Las Vegas.

Markets were enclosed at least as early as 1786, when a member of the French royal family rented gardens to create the wooden Galeries de bois du Palais Royal. In 1800, a warehouse was transformed into a Bazaar in London. In later decades, at other locations throughout Europe, streets were covered with metal and glass roofs, such as Saint Hubert Gallery in Brussels, opened in 1847, which survives to this day. These are clearly early predecessors of modern shopping centers that have management under a single organization

In 1823, Alexander Stewart opened a dry-goods store in New York. Dry-goods stores were certainly not rare, and what distinguishes department stores is basically size and scope. In 1846, Stewart opened the Marble Dry-Goods Palace on New York’s Broadway, which by 1862 had taken over a full city block and was the largest retail establishment in the world. Department stores were as the name suggests, stores with individual departments, which were often contracted out. Paris’ Bon Marche opened in 1838 and expanded in 1852, and Macy’s opened in 1858. John Wanamaker entered the Philadelphia retail sector in 1861 and by 1876, in time for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, constructed a department store that was “’the largest space in the world devoted to retail selling on a single floor.’” There is thus some controversy over which department store is first, because it is unclear where a regular store ends and a department store begins.

The shopping center followed streetcars and citizens to the suburb. Baltimore, Maryland’s Roland Park shopping center (with six shops) opened in 1896 to serve the needs of that new streetcar suburb, and is considered the first to provide off-street parking. Roland Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted among others, may also have been the home of the first homeowners or community association. Since it was built before zoning, its developer Edward Bouton placed covenants on houses to ensure that the character of the neighborhood would remain. The association collected revenue to support common areas like the neighborhood park. It is now listed on the register of national historic places.

Others credit Country Club Plaza, opened in 1922 and developed by Jesse Clyde Nichols, with being the first shopping center. It certainly was the first to fully adapt to the automobile, early plans had eight gas stations at the center, with plenty of off-street parking. In a sense Country Club Plaza is a planned extension of the city, the shops are at street level, and automobile streets transect the complex. But it is a part of the city designed solely for shopping. It is at a much larger scale than anything that came before. It has also kept up with the times, remaining a functioning and successful center with over 100 stores, in a way that many later enclosed malls, such as Apache Plaza, have not.

A mall is distinct from a center because the shops are facing inward into a pedestrian realm, rather than outward into a street. There are also pedestrian or auto-free streets that could be classed as malls. The key is that a mall is pedestrian oriented area lined with buildings. The word “mall” to refer to shopping derives from “pall-mall”, which was an alley where a game with a croquet mallet was played, pall-mall comes from the Italian for “Ball-mallet”. After games played in long alleys stopped being fashionable, that same street became a shopping area.

An enclosed, climate-controlled mall is a variant of the mall. Of the some 47,700 shopping centers in the US, only 2.4%, or about 1,130 are enclosed malls, but these malls have a much larger footprint, the 0.8% largest centers (the 421 centers larger than 1 million ft2 (93,000 m2)) comprise 7% of total floor space. The Mall of America alone contains just under 0.1% of total shopping center floorspace in the US. Many malls are now owned not by developers, but by Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS). REITS own or have an interest in half of 1130 malls (NREI online 2005). Leasable area has steadily increased

Well Street.MN readers voted, and the results are given below. Mall of America is not only how the world knows us, it is what we think of as the Best Mall in the region. It is big, oversized even, but we live in the land of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, that is how we roll in the Upper Midwest.

I see its merits. It is the epitome of mall-ness. Rosedale (and Har-Mar) are closer to where I live. Frankly the interior of Har-Mar gives me the creeps, though it is better than the Crossroads of Roseville, which was dark and abandoned-ish before its recent remodel. Malls of insufficient scale do not justify entering the common section, since consumers seem to only be interested in surgical strikes on individual stores. Enabling the stores to have their own parking lot entrances benefits the individual store to the detriment of the common mall. Rosedale has the mass, and I am likely to visit more than one store. But even Rosedale is following the trend of turning itself inside-out with its most recent remodel. Rosedale (unlike MOA) has the benefit of not being overwhelming, and even from time-to-time has train rides for the kids on the priciest transit system in Minnesota.

I like Galleria, it seems well scaled, and its narrower walkways make it feel more crowded than the same number of shoppers on a common section that was too wide. But I can’t justify spending the money the stores there demand.

Mall of America Under Construction

The MoA came out on top though. There are economies of scale to be had. If you go there, you can get almost anything mall-like, you can see the cool gadgets from Apple, visit an amusement park, get married, and catch 2 films. On our first visit, we spent 11 hours (at least 6 hours in movie theaters). Subsequent visits have been shorter.

The results are:

  • 27.7% Mall of America
  • 20.5% Rosedale
  • 16.1% Minneapolis Skyways
  • 11.6% Southdale
  •  6.3% Galleria
  •  5.4% Har Mar
  •  3.6% Eden Prairie
  •  0.9% Ridgedale
  •  0.9% Maplewood
  •  7.1% Other
    • Victoria Crossing
    • opt-out
    • No such Thing
    • None
    • ugh
    • Burnsville Center
    • They all suck
    • Brookdale

Congratulations to the Mall of America, voted by Streets.MN readers as the “Best Mid-Late 20th Century Enclosed Shopping Mall”

 

Linklist: March 26, 2012

PiPress: Mall of America plans $200 million expansion:

“that would add a second hotel, more retail space and a medical office tower at the megamall.”

[Because it is not big enough already. Economies of agglomeration]

Strib: $100 million in flour power to transform Pillsbury A-Mill :

“Now, a robust rental market and an ambitious plan from a local developer could mean new life for the site. Dominium Co. plans to convert the complex into 255 rental apartments for low-income artists, including studios and performance spaces. The project will cost more than $100 million, making it one of the most expensive residential construction projects on the books in the Twin Cities.”

[Maybe I misunderstand something, but why are we spending $392,000 per unit for low-income artists. Surely we can spend less to support low-income artists. It’s not like we think low-income artists will pay $392K per unit, or will rent it for $4K per month. That is more expensive than my house. Low-income artists, like low-income non-artists, should be able to rent used housing in regular neighborhoods or industrial areas. I am suspicious that one can create an artists district, rather than having one emerge (as happened in NE Mpls or along University Avenue before the LRT priced the artists out). It’s not like the preservation of the skin of the building somehow enhances the Twin Cities skyline. This is pseudo-presevationism at its worst.]

Reason supports privatizing the post, that is no surprise, but they dug up this “As Lysander Spooner, who challenged the government mail monopoly when he formed the American Letter Mail Company in 1844 noted in his essay, “The Unconstitutionality of the Laws of Congress, Prohibiting Private Mails,”:

Universal experience attests that government establishments cannot keep pace with private enterprize in matters of business (and the transmission of letters is a mere matter of business.) . . . [Private enterprise] is constantly increasing its speed, and simplifying and cheapening its operations. But government functionaries, secure in the enjoyment of warm nests, large salaries, official honors and power, and presidential smiles . . . feel few quickening impulses to labor, and are altogether too independent and dignified personages to move at the speed that commercial interests require. . . . The consequence is, as we now see, that when a cumbrous, clumsy, expensive and dilatory government system is once established, it is nearly impossible to modify or materially improve it. Opening the business to rivalry and free competition, is the only way to get rid of the nuisance.

Lysander Spooner is one of those great Americans about whom you should read the wikipedia article. E.g. he was an ardent abolitionist who supported the right of the South to secede.

HuffPo: Tacocopter Aims To Deliver Tacos Using Unmanned Drone Helicopters:

“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!
It’s an unmanned drone helicopter shooting a taco from space down at you and your colleagues during lunchtime!”

Holian and Kahn: The Impact of Center City Economic and Cultural Vibrancy on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transportation. … “vibrant downtown areas are associated with lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from driving, and with greater public transit use.”

We update Glaeser and Shaprio’s analysis using data from the 2000s. Unfortunately, the results do not bode well for dense cities, and by extension, the environment. While New York City grew by a little more than two percent, the population of Chicago fell by seven percent. We investigate the growth rates in over 1,000 cities in Section 1, and find that although density was not as bad for growth as it was in the 1980s, it was worse for growth than in the 1990s. Our results indicate that dense cities have quite a long way to go before we can say they are “back.”

When including our vibrancy measures, we find that downtowns with more hotels and more restaurants per capita are also associated with less driving.

Our findings with respect to the vibrancy-public transit connection show that places that have an educated downtown population, a low murder growth rate, and a high number of live-music performers are associated with higher public transit use.

Alexis Madrigal @ The Atlantic: Guess What’s the Fastest-Adopted Gadget of the Last 50 Years:

“When we think about the great consumer electronics technologies of our time, the cellular phone probably springs to mind. If we go farther back, perhaps we’d pick the color television or the digital camera. But none of those products were adopted as fast by the American people as the boom box. “

Metafilter: Traffic jams without bottlenecks—experimental evidence for the physical mechanism of the formation of a jam :

“The mathematical theory behind shockwave traffic jams was developed more than 20 years ago using models that show jams appearing from nowhere on roads carrying their maximum capacity of free-flowing traffic – typically triggered by a single driver slowing down. After that first vehicle brakes, the driver behind must also slow, and a shockwave jam of bunching cars appears, traveling backwards through the traffic.”

Techplan

Some of our research will be presented live on the Internet at the Techplan Roundtable on August 19 (tomorrow) starting at 8:45 CDT

We are on about 11:30 with “CONSUMER TRAVEL BEHAVIOR AND RETAIL GEOGRAPHY: A MICROSCOPIC INVESTIGATION USING GPS DATA AND PARCEL-LEVEL LAND USE.” Arthur will do most of the talking.

Accessibility, network structure, and consumers’ destination choice: a GIS analysis of GPS travel data

Working paper:

Walking areas around a trip destination
Walking areas around a trip destination
  • Huang, Arthur and Levinson, David (2011) Accessibility, network structure, and consumers’ destination choice: a GIS analysis of GPS travel data.

    Anecdotal and empirical evidence has shown that road networks, destination accessibility, and travelers’ choice of destination are closely related. Nevertheless, there have not been systematic investigations linking individuals’ travel behavior and retail clusters at the microscopic level. Based on GPS travel data in the Twin Cities, this paper analyzes the impacts of travelers’ interactions with road network structure and clustering of services at the destination on travelers’ destination choice. A multinomial logit model is adopted. The results reveal that higher accessibility and diversity of services in adjacent zones of a destination are associated with greater attractiveness of a destination. Further, the diversity and accessibility of establishments in an area are often highly correlated. In terms of network structure, a destination with a more circuitous or discontinuous route dampens its appeal. Answering where and why people choose to patronize certain places, our planning, our findings shed light on the design of road networks and clusters from a travel behavior perspective.

    (working paper)

Store vs. Shop

The End of Traffic and the Future of Access: A Roadmap to the New Transport Landscape. By David M. Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek.
The End of Traffic and the Future of Access: A Roadmap to the New Transport Landscape. By David M. Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek.

Some nuance on language.

Shop: wiktionary: From Middle English shoppe, from Old English sceoppa (“booth”)

  1. An establishment that sells goods or services to the public; originally a physical location, but now a virtual establishment as well.
  2. A place where things are crafted; a workshop or hobbyshop.
  3. An automobile mechanic’s workplace.
  4. Workplace; office. Used mainly in expressions such as shop talk, closed shop and shop floor.

Store: wiktionary:  Etymology from Latin instaurare – (“erect, establish”). store

  1. A place where items may be accumulated or routinely kept.
  2. A supply held in storage.
  3. (mainly North American) A place where items may be purchased.

A shop is a place where things are worked on (and sold), a store is a place where things are kept (and sold). We go shopping but we don’t go storing, we come home and store the things we got from the larger store.

The idea of a store, where things that we may need are stored and distributed, is ultimately one of sharing community resources. I may need tools at some point, but rather than own all the tools I might need, there is a hardware store which sells things on a just-in-time basis to consumers. Who owns the hardware store (an individual, a firm, a cooperative) is secondary to the necessity of such a function to achieve economies of scale and ensure variety. If there were no stores, we would need to store everything we might need, and would need to truck and barter for goods with their makers, a much less efficiency system.

The idea of a shop is just the place where the trade takes place. Implicitly, a store holds lots of things, a shop is just a place for the transaction or some local repair work. This is somewhat lost in modern usage, but we still have hardware stores and grocery stores (which are relatively large), but dress shops, tailor shops, auto shops (which at least the first two are relatively small, and the latter two refer to where things are done rather than already made things are sold).

Both of these functions are necessary in urban systems. We  need both places to store items we may need in the future (and then acquire them when needed), and we need shop-places to work on things, making them, repairing them, altering them.  With the move toward a disposable society, where it costs more to fix things (which is a laborious process) than make them (which is often automated), the share of space devoted to shops rather than stores has declined. Proposition Joe is in a declining business (“Shine that up and put $7.50 on it… Shame to let a good toaster go to waste over a frayed cord” – Proposition Joe, The Wire)

Where these things are located relative to where people and live and work depends on the frequency of use. We want things we want frequently (e.g. milk), to be closer than things we want infrequently (e.g. furniture). But closer and farther are relative not absolute terms. They depend on context: location with respect to others (density or community demand), the cost of travel (technology), frequency of use (individual demand), and so on. Relative locations have changed over time as density, technology, and demand have changed.

See also: Just-in-time consumption: Does the `pint of milk test’ hold water?

Why retailers cluster: an agent model of location choice on supply chains

clusterscreengrab-thumb-400x221-76350
Recently published:
Huang, Arthur and David Levinson (2011) Why retailers cluster: an agent model of location choice on supply chains volume 38(1) pages 82 – 94. [download from Environment and Planning b website]

Abstract. This paper investigates the emergence of retail clusters on supply chains comprised of suppliers, retailers, and consumers. An agent-based model is employed to study retail location choice in a market of homogeneous goods and a market of complementary goods. On a circle comprised of discrete locales, retailers play a noncooperative game by choosing locales to maximize profits which are impacted by their distance to consumers and to suppliers. Our findings disclose that in a market of homogeneous products symmetric distributions of retail clusters arise out of competition between individual retailers; average cluster density and cluster size change dynamically as retailers enter the market. In a market of two complementary goods, multiple equilibria of retail distributions are found to be common; a single cluster of retailers has the highest probability to emerge. Overall, our results show that retail clusters emerge from the balance between retailers’ proximity to their customers, their competitors, their complements, and their suppliers.

The software underlying this paper, CLUSTER, has just been made available on the STREET website, so you are free to test and reproduce the results yourself. The software is free and open source, so feel free to modify, please let us know if you do anything.