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Big Box Development.....how can it change?


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Ok everyone, there are not many momn pop stores anymore, and America is run by discount retailers, who happen to build big boxes behind a huge parking lot and call it a store. These discount retailers are here to stay, so instead of dissing them like we always do, we need to accomodate them. How can they change their development patterns? I think they could build a store next tot he road, and have it multiple stories, cause no one wants to walk passed a 100,000 sq ft one floor store, thats too much walking to walk passed one store. If they could maybe build up, we could crunch more stores and maybe even housing into a smaller area, and then just build a parking lot, or maybe even a parking deck multiple stores can share, behind the multi-story stores. In the distant future, maybe people can actually live or work in an office on top of a best buy, or dare I say it.....even a wal-mart! My whole paragraph here is a very drastic proposal and is something that will most likely not come true anytime soon. So now let me ask all of you.....what are your proposals for future big box development?

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BUt one thing to remember is many of the Big Box Retailers don't own their stores, though some do and some do a bit of both, but the point is many retailers lease their buildings. Developers build them, lease them and then sell them to investors. So a start would be to get developers to increase the use of mixed use development. THe developers need to see that it can be more profitable to stick offices or residences on top of these big box stores. OUt side of CBD's though that is not really done, my guess becuase they don't know how the market will respond. I think so one just needs to take a chance and see if people will rent apartments or by condos above say a Best Buy. In some cases though zoning would not permit it. In Greer, SC where I live and work mixed use is only permitted in C1 (CPD) and PD (Planned Developements) and there for zoning regulations can make it hard for developers to develope these kind of mixed use developements. My guess is htough that you will start to see more and more of it. Laws just need to be changed to incourage more of it and the market needs to prove that they will support it.

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Banning them would be a good start, but that probably isn't possible. Unfortunately the USA and the South especially including Charlotte, have built cities that are totally dependant upon the automobile, and the big box retailers are just another aspect of that type of development. I have heard of plans to force Walmart, Lowes, Best Buy, etc to build in new urbanist and real urban settings but the problem with that for these stores is they assume you have a vehicle to take home your purchases. For example, you buy some 2x4s at Lowes or buy $200 of groceries at Sams. How in the world do you take that on a train or bus?

The bottom line is get rid of the cars and you will get rid of the big boxes. Otherwise restrict them and they will just move across the line where the local government restricts their development. Unfortunately most local governments simply don't have the stomach to go up against developers. Case in point Huntersville. Huntersville now restricts this type of development and it is simply impossible to build a big box store in the city. (The zoning at Exit 25 was approved by Mecklenburg County before Huntersville took it over.) As a result, Super Walmart, Super Target, BJs, etc just loccated a bit further up at Exit 36 where Iredell zones much like Charlotte. In addition in the other direction at exit 18 Charlotte, against the wishes of the Huntersville City Council, approved the new mall knowing that it would add an additional 50,000 car trips/day to an already congested area.

One should note that in approving new malls, the Charlotte City council short circuits any chances that new retail will move into the CBD. That mall and the surrounding area will suck up all the new retail in the area for the next decade or so.

BTW, Charlottes's second SuperWalmart just opened on Hwy 16. Bleh.

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