[sbs_tax tax="States"] [sbs_tax tax="Albany"]

Pollo asado versus petrol: why don’t we see more gas station/restaurant conversions?

Brookings, the southwesternmost municipality in the state of Oregon, features a main street with a level of business activity that betrays its general charmlessness.     Plenty of similarly sized communities would kill to have a downtown with a low level of vacancy, a fully functional old-school cinema, and even a few white-tablecloth independently owned restaurants.

Aberdeen XChange: a growth machine that choked before the engine’s finished revving.

In the Baltimore exurb of Aberdeen, Maryland, a brand-new strip mall sits on a corner at a moderately busy intersection, awaiting a tenant.Aberdeen XChange is not bad looking, as strip malls go. It aligns with contemporary architectural standards for this type of thing: its chief cladding materials consist of tan fake stucco (probably EIFS) and

Small town retail: is the outlook any better than the cities?

I’ve spoken numerous times about the dire state of retail, and I’m hardly alone. National urban publications have covered it, obsessing in recent months how even the Borough of Manhattan, America’s most densely populated urban settlement, is witnessing increasingly yawning gaps between its occupied storefronts on formerly bustling streets. And it’s not like the island

Fast-casual dining advances on suburbia: is it the end of the era of Applebee’s?

Amidst the bleak outlook of American retail, the restaurant and hospitality industry has fared pretty well. Sure, in many respects, restaurants are a subcategory within retail, but compared to a clothing boutique or a bookstore, the business model uses different benchmarks for success, a widely different employment structure, and a different means of handling its

Well-regulated suburban development: hardly off the rails.

A railing on a sidewalk may seem like a humble installation, in the context of the vast strip mall that surrounds it. And it is. But it does seem odd, almost random, based on the environment. Why does this twelve-foot stretch of sidewalk need two railings when nothing around it has them? A view from

Petersburg, Virginia: will small cities ever get the same infill as the big kids?

Most cities over a certain population—say 100,000—are enjoying renewed curiosity in their historic downtowns, enough to spawn not just an array of restaurants and bars and (for the lucky few) a handful of flourishing retail establishments, but to attract a solid residential component that helps galvanize even more restaurants. And in quite a few of

A garage where the grass is still greener.

In Pittsburgh’s Strip District, a neighborhood whose fortunes have waxed and waned with each decade, a successful restaurant stands at the foot of low-lying structure.I don’t know much about Cioppino and haven’t patronized the establishment, but the fact that it is still around today places it in the more successful half (if not one-quarter) of

Worcester Plaza: a green oasis surrounding by “No Trespassing” signs.

We often judge a city’s economic health or malaise by the condition of the built environment—the visual evidence of concentrated investment in real property. Are the buildings new? If not, have the owners renovated recently? Do the buildings get larger and more closely packed together when approaching the city center? There’s certainly nothing wrong with

Two lanes diverge on a road, and I took the time to blog about it.

Generally, when I stumble across an unusual bit of infrastructure, I can figure out what’s gong on after some careful scrutiny. But bicycle and pedestrian markings have gotten so variegated and complicated that, more often than not, I’m left scratching my head. I pondered the rationale for a weird crosswalk in Baltimore a few months

Tri-State Mall: not yet dead, but gangrenous.

I’ve encountered some pretty bleak suburban shopping districts in my day, but Delaware’s Tri-State Mall, just a stone’s throw from the Pennsylvania state line in the Philadelphia suburbs, ranks near the top. Notice I said “near the top”. It’s not number one: I can’t quite place it at the same tier as the Bannister Mall

A garage where the grass is still greener.

In Pittsburgh’s Strip District, a neighborhood whose fortunes have waxed and waned with each decade, a successful restaurant stands at the foot of low-lying structure.I don’t know much about Cioppino and haven’t patronized

Tri-State Mall: not yet dead, but gangrenous.

I’ve encountered some pretty bleak suburban shopping districts in my day, but Delaware’s Tri-State Mall, just a stone’s throw from the Pennsylvania state line in the Philadelphia suburbs, ranks near the top. Notice