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Old 12-16-2009, 03:59 PM
 
Location: Sacramento
13,473 posts, read 16,319,342 times
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Valid perspective Phil, but I'd like to point out that you can go with a less conventional mix in a central core shopping center. Something like a SuperTarget, including a grocery store within the store, could be a decent fit for downtown, and perhaps make it a little more attractive to live there.

Mall construction is clearly on the way out, but I think that there is still a way to reutilize DTP. It needs to be more attractive and safe, those are keys to success. In terms of size, Sacramento appears to have about 2 million folks, so multiple shopping areas seem supportable.

Concerning your San Francisco observation, you need to keep in mind how small the city actually is in terms of square miles. Though outside of San Francisco proper, the metro area has some shopping centers within 15 miles of the central city. For example, major centers would include Serramonte Mall in Daly City and Bay Street Town Center in Emeryville. In addition, they also have Embarcadero Center near downtown SF, and they have 100 or so stores too.
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:06 PM
 
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Sacramento's metropolitan area is about 2.5 million people, the city itself is a bit shy of half a million.

There is a cognitive disconnect between what some people want downtown Sacramento to look like and what the market can support. There are people who want downtown Sacramento to be nothing but high-end properties: expensive restaurants, expensive boutiques, and expensive housing. The problem is that most people in the region can't afford that, and most who can choose to live elsewhere. A Target is probably more in line to what central city residents actually need than a high-end department store (although personally I'd draw the line at Wal-Mart.) The folks who advocate for high-end retail are resistant to the sorts of businesses where Sacramentans would actually shop, because they don't want to draw "the wrong element" (that is, people who aren't rich.) Unfortunately, we are a city of "the wrong element" and some of us like it that way, so our actual needs never get filled--and attempts to fill needs we don't have end up failing.

The issue isn't retail in the central city so much as how a suburban mall works in the suburbs vs. how it works when plopped into the middle of a city. First is parking: anyone familiar with suburban malls can recognize a mall by its sea of parking. Downtown Plaza has tons of parking in its underground lots, free for 3 hours with any purchase, but suburbanites coming downtown can't immediately recognize this and instead assume that a parking structure means paying from minute 1, and that the only other alternative is street parking. There are other problems, most having to do with the comfort level of suburbanites around the sort of people who live downtown.
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Old 12-16-2009, 10:21 PM
 
Location: Sacramento
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See, when I look at a DTP, I ask myself why a SuperTarget, Marshall's, Ross, Old Navy, Lowe's and JC Penney wouldn't be part of the mix. Unlike the suburban shopping centers, I can see this as a hybrid "big box" concept, with more of an emphasis on places such as those mentioned above, serving those working in the central city and hopefully giving some more reason to consider residing there. If you fill in with a decent variety eating places, I think it can be successful.

Over a long period of time, if economically successful it can morph into something more upscale, or I could also see it getting some of the outlet type of stores found in Vacaville. My central point though is that I think the structure itself can work, if they are willing to be more creative in how they envision their tenant base.

I'd love to see it work within the concept of augmenting traditional downtown storefront shops.
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:55 AM
 
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The problem is that most big boxes aren't comfortable putting a store where they can't have a big parking lot either. An outlet strip mall is more of a small-city/rural thing: they have them in Vacaville, Folsom and even Anderson, for cryin' out loud. I wouldn't object too strongly to some of the stores you mention (heck, a Sears would be nice) and of course K Street used to be where all the department stores were until the suburban malls of the 50s slowly killed them all off.

But I'm more interested in seeing more local business, not high-end retail but not chain stores either, intermixed with some national stores that sell the basics. There isn't a place downtown where one can buy, say, a TV or a stereo.

Of course, the 700 block of K Street *did* have local businesses located on it--including an independent record store, a comic shop, and a local clothes retailer that had been around since the 1920s. They kicked them all out on the off chance that we could score a "Sur la Table."

I'm also wondering where Macy's factors into all this. Unlike most of the mall tenants, Macy's owns their buildings, and they predate the mall itself (the 4th Street one from the mid-sixties, the one on 7th was a Weinstock's.) Even if Westfield sells their portion, Macy's will still have to be dealt with--either their current stores would be built around, or they too would need to be bought out, and probably not cheaply. It would also be a real loss of the only viable department store downtown--the downtown Macy's also tends to have a lot more edgy/urban styles of clothing than Macy's in the suburbs, thus filling a market niche that is pretty unique in the region.
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Old 12-17-2009, 03:48 AM
 
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Quick comment: no one is really talking about the major factor as to why downtown retail and the downtown mall is struggling... in my opinion it has very little to do with the suburan/urban mall arguments, or parking lots, or high in vs low end stores... the reason is simple...

Lack of full time residents.

Despite the progress in the central city the past 10 years, there is *still* not adequate housing downtown. It doesn't even need to be in the form on condos, even more apartments would work wonders.

Look at downtown vs midtown on both weekdays and weekends. World of difference.
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:29 AM
 
Location: Bryte, CA
1,963 posts, read 2,833,551 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wburg View Post
Sacramento's metropolitan area is about 2.5 million people, the city itself is a bit shy of half a million.

There is a cognitive disconnect between what some people want downtown Sacramento to look like and what the market can support. There are people who want downtown Sacramento to be nothing but high-end properties: expensive restaurants, expensive boutiques, and expensive housing.
I don't call it a cognitive disconnect. I call it a total disregard for the taxpayers. Many of these private projects have had public funding at the expense of the taxpayers. Furthermore, this disregard extends way beyond Sacramento and is one of our country's biggest problems when it comes to politicians.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:57 AM
 
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KC: The modern auto suburb wouldn't even exist without massive taxpayer support and public subsidy: government-sponsored highways, government-sponsored water and electrical infrastructure improvements, government-sponsored home loans, etcetera. Suburbs have a parasitic relationship with nearby cities, depending on them as job centers and sinks for social problems. They sponge off of cities, then when those cities try to actually pay for the problems created by white flight and suburban parasitism they are accused of a "disregard for the taxpayers."

It's a cognitive disconnect--people in the suburbs assume that if taxpayers pay for something they use, like freeways, it's a constitutional right, but anything taxpayers pay for that they don't use is a crime against humanity.
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Sacramento
13,473 posts, read 16,319,342 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Majin View Post
Quick comment: no one is really talking about the major factor as to why downtown retail and the downtown mall is struggling... in my opinion it has very little to do with the suburan/urban mall arguments, or parking lots, or high in vs low end stores... the reason is simple...

Lack of full time residents.

Despite the progress in the central city the past 10 years, there is *still* not adequate housing downtown. It doesn't even need to be in the form on condos, even more apartments would work wonders.

Look at downtown vs midtown on both weekdays and weekends. World of difference.
I kind of brought this up in my discussion of DTP, but to summarize it more clearly I think you end up with the "chicken or egg" issue. Without decent daily shopping options for "normal" folks, living downtown becomes somewhat more difficult. Yet, without a sufficient number of folks residing downtown, it is difficult to support substantial retail centers.

In this case, since the center is already up and has a huge tenant in place, I thought that it would be easier and more practical to try and backfill in on the existing space, but better integrate it into the surrounding vicinity.

Hopefully, this would be one of the things that would make it more attractive for a wider variety of folks to consider residing in the downtown area.
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:40 AM
 
109 posts, read 236,521 times
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NewToCA

The problem with adding more big box stores into downtown is the problem with the numbers of big box stores in the trading area already. Why they couldn't get Target to go into the downtown plaza was that Target already had a store at Broadway and Riverside. If the city subsidizes Target to move to downtown plaza, then it still has the problem with what to do with the Target at Broadway and Riverside. There isn't a nearby Walmart in the area, but politically its infeasible for anyone on the Sacramento City Council to vote to subsidize a Walmart coming in to downtown (too many City Council members are dependent on money and votes from organized labor).

Right now grocery stores downtown are subsidized. The city subsidized the construction of the Safeway at 19th and S. But when it did so the Albertsons at 22 and F went under. Subsidizing the construction of new stores will get you newer stores, but it may not get you more grocery stores downtown. Instead you might just be pushing out of business some of the other neighborhood markets or just harm the Safeway you just subsidized 19th or the Safeway on Alhambra at Jst.

The reason I don't see the other big box stores you mentioned working is that there are already those stores in the trading area. It doesn't make sense for the city of Sacramento to subsidize a JCP downtown just to get it to leave Arden Fair and have it weaken a mall that is one of the City of Sacramento's major sources of sales tax. There is a Greatland Target in Natomas, again same issue. Subsidizing the moving of big box retail from Natomas or Arden Fair is picking winners among various developers, but not increasing the net sales tax reciepts to the City of Sacramento, so it probably doesn't make sense for the city to make that type of subsidy.

Majin

They are adding new housing downtown. But new housing needs to cover the cost of construction. To build something new downtown, you have to cover the cost of building the new structure plus the cost of acquiring and removing the old structure. During the housing boom when lenders were willing to lend to anything with a pulse, construction was happening everywhere.

But today credit standards matter. The limit on rate of new growth downtown is the number of people wealthy enough to pay for new construction downtown. Sacramento doesn't have the corporate work that Seattle, SF, Chicago or NYC have.

My hunch is that downtown, any additions to the housing stock is going to be more of the variety of adaptive re-use (ie adding new housing stock by turning class c office space into housing).

In the short term that route is probably the fastest way to get more people living downtown. But there are trade offs. Once people are living in a building its really difficult to later change the land use of that building. This is why it was much easier to get higher densities approved for the railyards than in midtown or downtown. In the railyards there was no current residents to object to the plan.
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Old 12-17-2009, 04:59 PM
 
Location: Sacramento
286 posts, read 529,635 times
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Com'on Albertson's went out of business all over Northern California, that wasn't because a Safeway opened up. You're distorting the facts there fella.

I think a grocery store would do well in the downtown mall as would stores like Ross and Marshall's.

KJ is right that the inside out mall concept is really bad. Ever try to get in the Mall at J and 6th? It's like a fortress, there isn't even an entrance sign, even though there is in fact an entrance there.

A couple other points, there are at least 6 indoor malls in San Francisco: Embarcadaro Center, Meteron, WestField on Market, Stonesfield, the Crocker Galleria on Post and JapanTown. And there may be another I'm forgetting.
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