CONSULTING PLANNERS OF MASSACHUSETTS
Expertise for Communities
“The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will be announcing today roads that will be closed to really encourage people to get outdoors and feel safe walking and biking and enjoying outdoors with the proper physical, distancing.
The closures are temporary, but Jill Locantore, head of the Denver Streets Partnership, sees an opportunity to show the public what “people-first streets” can do.
“This is basically a huge tactical urbanism project where we can temporarily demonstrate different uses for our streets and allow people to experience that,” Locantore said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to think about whether some of these changes should be made more permanent. Do we actually think our streets are functioning better this way and could continue to function this way even after we emerge from the crisis?”
Brian Barber, renowned planner, teacher, adviser, mentor, and friend, died in Florida recently at age 82. Please read this obituary that says so much about what Brian did for the planning community. A memorial service in the Boston area will be held in late spring.
"Connectivity is not just a question of geometry... It's critical to consider what people connect for and how....the question of context: who the links are for and what they link to..."
"Changes are coming, but they don't have to be anti-urban, and they could mean a more resilient world for cities and communities of all shapes and sizes...list of predicted changes in cities and the world after the pandemic is over:
MACP member Kathleen McCabe, president of McCabe Enterprises, specialists in community development, was inducted into the American Institute of Certified Planners College of Fellows (FAICP)!
CHAPA Breakfast Forum: Fair Housing Beyond the Law
A Dutch advocate believes Lego's city sets should reflect streets that prioritize all users. Including bike lanes would be one way for the toy manufacturer to start accomplishing that goal.
Read this fascinating and instructional short interview with Allan Hodges, FAICP, who was the Director of Planning at Parsons Brinckerhoff (now WSP) during most of his 50-year planning career. This appeared in Mass. APA Feb. Communications e-mail.
If in this new year of the new decade you are shaky about retail, you are right on. Headlines range from apocalypse to renaissance and everything in between. Be it AI technology, consumer demographics, or Amazon’s potential drone deliveries, it’s information overload and then what? Here is what is happening:
There are now three generations of shoppers: Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z-ers. They each have different lifestyles, but each has expressed a desire to shop in physical stores albeit they make uncomplicated purchases conveniently online.
For other retail purchases these consumers prefer to buy in physical stores with human interaction, much of which comes from trained sales help or shopping with friends and family. “Back in the day” consumers shopped to accumulate goods at low prices. Today values have changed and consumers want a feel-good experience; otherwise, its home to click.
This means retailers have to know their customers, greet and meet them personally and know their shopping desires. Merchandise has to be selective and arranged creatively. The space has to be welcoming and warm. Amenities might include sofas and coffee, and above all shoppers want to touch, feel, and talk about the goods. The store becomes a laboratory to explore customer reaction and satisfaction with goods, services, and ambience. The store is also a flexible space capable of transformation as needs and habits change over time.
The future of retailers who understand the new order and adapt their concepts is bright since there is demand. Redoing has started with some department stores for selected urban locations: Target with smaller focused stores and Nordstrom with it’s trial of specialized stores.
Regarding specialty retailers, Lululemon(Newbury St.) takes customer experience to the next level. The second floor has a café with tables for laptop work, comfortable seating, studio space for Yoga and Meditation classes, showers and dressing rooms. It’s as if the merchandise on the first floor is simply a complement to upstairs…a convenience in case you forgot your yoga gear.
New generation retailers from the internet keep appearing. Some are direct-to-consumer stores; e.g., Bonobos, men’s apparel: others are just market-right, like LEGIT (Chestnut Hill) unique athleisure apparel. In New York and Los Angeles new concepts are constantly debuting that with success expand to major markets nationwide.
The take away: We have entered a new retail era , one without a formula except to cater to the customer. Its neither a boom nor a renaissance, but a thoughtful and artful return to rebuilding an industry.
Carol Todreas is a principal at Todreas Hanley Associates, Cambridge, Mass. and a member of the Massachusetts Association of Consulting Planners.
This article first appeared in the New England Real Estate Journal
The Salem News reported that Danvers voted overwhelmingly to rezone the downtown and High Street corridor south of Porter Street to Rte. 128.
"It will create predictability with development for the next 30 years and I urge you to support it," said Dan Bennett, chairman of the Board of Selectman. The extensive new rules and design guidelines would ensure that development would not go on in a vacuum as it has in the past.
Planning Board Chairman Bill Prentiss said the work over the past 18 months by the Planning Board and the Planning Department, and its consultant Ted Brovitz, was a continuation of an effort started in 2006 to look at industrial areas in and around the downtown that date back to the original zoning code of 1946."
Read The Salem News article Danvers remakes its downtown