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74 articles

Lifestyle centers: with Saucon Valley, neither lively nor stylish.

Now that the holiday season is long behind us, we can only hope to rebound from the latest wave of contractions among our perpetually ailing retail sector. You know what I’m talking about. After dismal holiday performances, chains like Sears, Kmart, and Macy’s announced a slew of nationwide closures.  Meanwhile, smaller, specialty retailers The Limited and

Looking for the Americana of yesteryear? Just visit your closest inner city.

Throughout the densely populated central city neighborhoods of Allentown, bodegas punctuate the street corners. Much of the housing in the area predates widespread car ownership, so the rowhomes lack any space for a garage, a driveway, and—in many instances—anything more than a tiny garden plot. In other words, we encounter housing built right up to

On healthy main streets, securing a tenant involves less cosmetics and more mathematics.

Any visitor who stumbles upon the main street of Bethlehem—the second largest city in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley—is likely to presume or speculate that it’s a prosperous town. And, in most respects, it is: well-maintained streetscapes with sidewalks of brick and slate; an mix of old and new buildings, most of which are in excellent condition; a

Mall department stores: will the last one please turn the lights out?

We’ve been hearing and witnessing for years the turbulent state of American retail. Conventional sellers of durable goods—of housewares, sporting goods, electronics, and clothes—have suffered in general, and malls have suffered in particular. But even more salient have been the struggles of the historic department stores to our malls. Scarcely a week goes by when

Who needs Vegas for quirky chapels? The rest of the country is holding its own.

I’d wager that the American religious landscape is currently undergoing a cataclysmic shift, but that would be disingenuous, since it suggests that the shift, with all these denominations, is something recent. It isn’t. Religious expression—or the demonstration of it among its adherents—has never really been static in this country. Throughout the twentieth century, the number

When strolling Main Street has all the flair of flipping through the Yellow Pages.

I’ve explored the ridiculous oversupply of retail space in our country numerous times, in this blog and others. But I’ve approached it from enough angles that it doesn’t seem to get old, at least not to me. I find the vast parking lots to power centers just as interesting as an immaculately maintained commercial street.

Along the road to Calvary, a bingo parlor.

I’ve ruminated multiple times on this blog about how we spatialize ourselves through religion—a subject of great interest to me, but one of which I haven’t plumbed any great depths. And this is not the time. I’ll keep it superficial, while at least adding a little texture to the layer. And here’s that texture: a

When a business hits the big time, it goes small.

Hot on the heels of my article on a mac ‘n cheese food truck that made it to the major leagues—that is, as a standalone restaurant–I have stumbled across a sign for an eatery that seems to be adopting a similar approach: Yes, macaroni and cheese is incredibly en vogue at the moment, so it should

As ambition grows, the menus shrink.

The destiny of generally unregulated markets is one of intensifying competition. In an ideal world, these markets spawn a trajectory that impels producers or service providers to innovate so they can achieve that competitive edge. As a result, the consumer reaps the benefit of products and services that continuously improve in quality and efficiency. One

Along the road to Calvary, a bingo parlor.

I’ve ruminated multiple times on this blog about how we spatialize ourselves through religion—a subject of great interest to me, but one of which I haven’t plumbed any great depths. And this is

When a business hits the big time, it goes small.

Hot on the heels of my article on a mac ‘n cheese food truck that made it to the major leagues—that is, as a standalone restaurant–I have stumbled across a sign for an eatery

As ambition grows, the menus shrink.

The destiny of generally unregulated markets is one of intensifying competition. In an ideal world, these markets spawn a trajectory that impels producers or service providers to innovate so they can achieve that