Urbanization is penetrating suburban markets, and retail centers are among the first to be hit. Retail centers and strip malls, which in general are being transformed or abandoned altogether, are transforming into community-oriented town centers. Institutional investors and developers are at the center of these transformations, working to renovate and reposition old and outdated retail into modern lifestyle retail hubs that serve the community.
“The suburbs are the new, new town centers,” Jose Sanchez, retail and mixed-use design leader at the DLR Group, tells GlobeSt.com. “Many cities in their fast growth conceptions failed to properly plan town centers and community hubs. Regional and “strip” malls initially designed to offer basic commodities then filled the void of community meeting places. DLR Group is working with a number of national retail developers and REITS to transform outdated shopping centers into a new generation of dense, walkable, sustainable urban places that can realize multifaceted dreams without displacing the idealistic concepts of suburbia.”
Generally, retail is heading in the direction of community-oriented, experiential centers, especially in light of the popularity of online shopping. However, the need for housing has pushed the trend into suburban markets, where retail has been slower to evolve. “Urban cores continue to have an upward demand for housing however for many of the pre-war industrial hubs, they no longer have the available real estate to grow their urban cores and accommodate this demand,” Sanchez. “By 2030 urban areas such as Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta and Phoenix will displace traditional industrial hubs such Boston, Pittsburg and San Francisco where the post-war suburban exodus, available developable land and affordability have stalled their growth. US cities have grown. However, their urban cores have not.”