Friday, November 2, 2007

A Sign Of Things To Come?

If you were to take a look at commercial buildings downtown these days, this is what you might see:

Empty buildings, unused spaces, etc. Compare that with what you see on West St.:

New development abounds.
Is this just a cyclical occurrence, or is it the beginning of a trend?
Well, let's think about it. Inner West Street (Park Place, et al) as well as outer West St. (Parole) enjoy newer, safer buildings, more parking, better access, and more space in general. Furthermore, the West Street Corridor enjoys the relative ease of mixed use zoning, compared to the historic district, where you need the written consent of George Washington himself to change the lettering on your sign. Downtown has charm, history, and character....but is that enough to fend off the intense competition?
If you ask me, probably not. I tend to think that if given a roughly equal choice, consumers will exert slightly more effort or pay slightly more money to patronize a family, local, or historic business. But with so many factors attracting consumers away from downtown, and considering the lackluster transportation options for getting downtown so shop, we should be prepared for what happens.

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