The North Side Shopping Center is the most important commercial center for the target area, as well as serving a much larger market area. Its successful redevelopment is of paramount importance to the success of this sustainable development strategy.
Today, the North Side Shopping Center is set back from 79th Street with a massive parking lot which is used by tractor trailers. It has very poor pedestrian access from the community. The MetroRail stops two blocks to the west on 79th Street, but there is no sense of connection between the station and the shopping center. In addition, the shopping center has little visual or functional connection to the intersection of 79th Street and 27th Avenue.
The challenge is to envision the North Side Shopping Center as the “town square” for the surrounding neighborhood and as an anchor of a sustainable development strategy. The conversion of first generation shopping centers surrounded by a massive parking lot into an urban town center is happening elsewhere around the country, including University Park, IL. This strategy seeks to convert the shopping center from a shopping-only destination to a place where many things happen: shopping, schooling, public administration, etc.
The shopping center needs to be viewed as the heart of the community economy. Its impact should be enhanced by identifying ways to better capture the neighborhood’s dollars by giving residents financial incentives to shop there.
The land surrounding the shopping center offers opportunities for creative, mixed uses, from stormwater retention to new townhouse development. The center should model resource efficiency as a way to keep operating costs low and expand profit margins for merchants.