If you consistently don't like the outcome, you must change the rules of the game.
Building after massive building now
In the short term, you don’t want to lose the big box war. In the long term, the only thing worse than losing the big box war is winning it.
What's the problem with big box stores?
Big box stores occupy acres of valuable land in our towns with their large-scale buildings and even larger parking lots. This is land that generates far less tax revenue per acre than traditional commercial development. In spite of their low productivity, big box stores benefit from tax subsidies, regulatory advantages and extensive public infrastructure investments. They are perfectly adapted to take advantage of the un-level playing field that is the American economy.
Big box stores fail to generate true wealth in our communities. They are designed to siphon money out of our towns, not build wealth within. They turn, for example, the local owner of the shoe store into the manager of the shoe department, with massive ramifications for wealth creation. Yet, many cities are forced to take the big box -- even fight for it -- lest it end up in the neighboring city. This isn't a free market. We've created a destructive game where the prime casualty is the financial solvency of our cities, towns and neighborhoods.
Everything that used to be shiny and new in this town is now aging – not all of it well. This town, like nearly every other town of its vintage, is functionally insolvent.
American towns and states are subsidizing big businesses to the tune of billions of dollars a year. In exchange, we get crappy, big box developments and infrastructure we can't pay afford.
What if our goal wasn’t to build the most stuff in the shortest amount of time for the least amount of money?
Suburbia cannot and will not be retrofitted to a substantially different model of development. But a small portion may be salvageable.
Stacy Mitchell, researcher and author of Big Box Swindle, discusses the origins of the big box store, the way they're subsidized by communities and how they are undercutting the American middle class.
Cities that tethered their future to this experiment are going to struggle while those that still have a pulse in their core neighborhoods will have a chance at renewed prosperity.
Frequently hailed as a shining example of a successful big box retrofit, the McAllen Main Library is a fantastic space. But is it a realistic model for retrofits across the country?
In Austin, MN an old K-Mart was transformed into a popular museum—a big box reuse success! Or was it?
We’re told that Black Friday is the “biggest shopping day of the year”—yet parking lots across the country tell a different story. Last year, I set out to explore #BlackFridayParking at commercial shopping centers across Tulsa to see for myself.
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Check out our campaign to end parking minimums and learn why big parking lots are bad for our financial prosperity and built environment: