Retail Spaces in Mixed-Use Developments: Supporting Small Businesses and Creating Place in Seattle’s Neighborhoods
Lee, James Adam
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At a time of breakneck development in Seattle, mixed-use developments are seen as a way to provide increased housing options for the city’s newcomers, concentrate and strengthen existing commercial corridors, and protect surrounding historic single-family development. However, while planning theory suggests that ground-floor retail in mixed-use developments plays a crucial role activating neighborhood public spaces, in practice, retail vacancies in newly-built developments are dragging down Seattle’s commercial districts and contributing to public unease over the pace and nature of development. The study below evaluates eight separate mixed-use developments, completed between 2007 and 2017, for characteristics contributing to either occupancy or vacancy on their ground floors. The findings indicate that retail vacancy results from an imbalance in the incentives between the City, the developer, and the business community. These three actors, together the three main stakeholders in mixed-use retail development, each pull on the building process in different ways and must cooperate if new properties are to be successful.
- Urban planning