In last Sundays New York Times Magazine, Rob Walker wrote an article entitled “Repurpose-Driven Life.” In the article he cites research conducted by Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson that suggests the United States has too much retail space.
“…in 1986, the United States had about 15 square feet of retail space per person in shopping centers. That was already a world-leading figure, but by 2003 it had increased by a third, to 20 square feet. The next countries on the list are Canada (13 square feet per person) and Australia (6.5 square feet); the highest figure in Europe is in Sweden, with 3 square feet per person.”
This is important to consider in the current debate over CB 29 (ZRA 102) which will govern the process for revitalizing struggling village centers in Columbia. While opponents of the legislation are advocating for more community input and oversight to any village center redevelopment, the real issue is whether these struggling centers simply have too much retail space to begin with.