Three observations regarding the news that a major commercial property owner is seeking to downsize its retail holdings.
Three observations regarding the news that a major commercial property owner is seeking to downsize its retail holdings. First, that a business district built in an era lacking cars, refrigerators and the internet is probably too big in the face of these competitive forces seems to be a reasonable recognition.
Second, the downsizing of individual buildings as proposed may be a good solution for the individual owner and property, but it is not necessarily a good solution for the business district as a whole. Fellow owners should be very concerned that the irreversible creation of very small retail spaces may prove to be substantially unviable - too small for most retailers, especially as businesses turnover over time - leaving the remaining businesses with less foot traffic and dead spots to cope with in the remaining business district. As such, the Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District itself should seek to be intimately involved as to where this downsizing takes place and the types of businesses that are sought so as to generate as much foot traffic as possible.
Third, while having more housing and therefore more nearby potential customers is generally a good thing for a commercial district, this proposal is ultimately too small to make much of a difference. What is needed, in contrast to some recent controversies around proposed housing redevelopment projects, is a community ready to support a pro-family, pro-business moderate density housing strategy that can sustain our retailers as well as households that want to be in the area. That is the best strategy for sustaining a strong business district.