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81 articles

Crested Butte main street: a shopper’s oasis amidst the lingering retail drought.

More times than I can count, I’ve explored the country’s mismatch between the supply of retail-oriented real estate and the broader public’s demand.  We just have too many shopping centers.  And it’s always been that way.  Even in the best of times—the peak of the suburban mall during the 1970s and 80s—our historic downtown storefronts

Eagleridge Shopping Center: rockstar parking…in strip mall suburbia?

Salvaging the subject of strip mall soulfulness for a second study, I present a regional shopping center of no great distinction.  Much like the suburban structures of the previous article, Eagleridge Shopping Center is unusually coy about its name; the massive sign facing Interstate 25 forces the title to the absolute bottom.  Most people probably

Fort Worth Water Gardens: when a splashy downtown feature rests on a slippery slope (literally).

Let’s face it: it doesn’t matter how big or vibrant your city’s downtown is.  Generally speaking, the civic plazas immediately outside the major municipal buildings are dead on weekends.  There just isn’t any magnetism, given that these buildings host city government functions, which typically operate during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.  (Emergency and corrections

bark park at The Blairs apartments, Silver Spring MD

Pint sized bark parks: when an undefined patch of land is going to the dogs.

I’m not sure what it is, but something about the downtown to the unincorporated Washington DC suburb of Sliver Spring, Maryland seems have spawned a number of unusual urban forms: acute angles, bizarre protrusions, and neglected little corners.  I’ve written about this once before: how a building’s orientation and street frontage created a little storefront

Café Dolci on Market Street: will defensive downscaling (and social distancing) pave the way for more microretail?

In the approximately eighteen months since I walked along the underachieving arterial of Market Street in downtown San Francisco, its character has changed far more than anyone might expect. For such a prime thoroughfare in such a densely populated city, it’s surprisingly mediocre in terms of the density of foot-traffic, which, not surprisingly, leads to

German Street in Shepherdstown, WV: where, instead of a curb at the sidewalk, there’s a fence.  And shrubs.

The prosperous little municipality of Shepherdstown, fortuitously situated along the Potomac River in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, boasts a charming three-block main street, German Street, with nothing but locally owned establishments, achieving almost perfect occupancy amidst its variegated, well-maintained 19th century buildings.  It’s an enviable arrangement, no doubt enhanced by its location in

Directional decals: amplifying restrictions on everyday activities amidst pandemic panic.

Usually I like my articles to be “outside of time”—that is, I avoid subjects that are completely beholden to some current event.  But by March of this year, that all changed.  How couldn’t it?! It was virtually impossible to avoid the coronavirus, both artistically and epidemiologically.  (I still estimate there’s about a 50% chance that