One of the editors of Retail Traffic magazine said he possibly had a story for me to do on mixed used development. Having covered the retail real estate beat for some time, I’m intrigued that this trend is gaining speed again — it backs up what I’ve been reading about elsewhere regarding how people are seeking urban environments.
The large real estate investment trusts (REITs) are taking heavy losses on their large-scale development projects as retailers fail and businesses sink. But there are smaller, more nimble companies who are working on mixed use projects that is in step with a consumer trend of shopping local. Consumers want the old main street back again.
Just the other night, a long-time Kingstonian said they were considering moving from their home in Hurley back to the city. “I’ve got over three acres,” he said. “Who wants to take care of that at my age?” He is nearing 70.
There are also aging baby boomers who are attracted to the idea of living in walking distance to their doctors, their grocers and car repair shops. Dominick from Dreamweavers told me the other night that uptown Kingston has it all. Indeed, it fits nicely into the mixed use model. Although there could be more apartments there, people who live in the uptown section can walk to Hannaford’s, see their doctor, get a massage, a haircut, eat really good meals, see music, visit museums, go to church, etc. It’s all there.
The question, though, is how to enrich and encourage more businesses and people to move in. In the Pike Plan area alone, there are at least 10 vacant storefronts — including the recently closed Fitness Unlimited.
Rebecca Martin wondered in a prior post regarding “micro-economic development” what projects the economic development office of the city was working on. This is a good question. We’re spending a lot of money for the department, and yet there are gaping holes here and there.
In the meantime, Kingston has an asset in place — existing mixed use areas — that are in demand. Now we just need to tell people about it.
– Arthur Zaczkiewicz