MINNEAPOLIS-Too many cities are looking at the success of the Arbor Lakes project in Maple Grove, developed by Opus Corp., and want to mirror the concept in their own communities.

That’s according to Chris Simmons, a retail broker with Welsh Cos., an Eden Prairie-based commercial real estate firm, who spoke at a recent commercial real estate forecast sponsored by the Minnesota-South Dakota chapter of the Certified Commercial Investment Members.

“What city planners and politicians are missing is that the Main Street in Maple Grove is surrounded by millions of square feet of department stores, discount department stores, home improvement chains, grocery stores, health clubs and city offices and three major freeways, all of which draw people from a large geographic area to do their shopping,” Simmons said.

A nubmer of cities from Coon Rapids to St. Louis Park are developing similar “Main Street” projects.

“Main Street is not a destination, but rather a parasite, which is feeding on its host traffic in the area,” he asserted. Simmons finds irony in this renewed desire for the “downtown” or “main street” among suburban cities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The cities are attempting to make them seem urban and old, he said.

“Don’t most of the residents live in the suburbs to get away from urban areas?” Simmons asked.