Planning for a Resilient Retail Landscape

PAS Memo — January-February 2020

By Bobby Boone, AICP, Rick Liu, AICP


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Retail is a fundamental part of the everyday experience for people and their communities, fulfilling the needs of daily life and driving economic activity. Residents and planners alike dream of stores, coffee shops, and restaurants that flank vibrant commercial corridors and line shopping centers. However, new realities are threatening this dream. The lingering effects of the Great Recession, a national overbuilding of commercial space, and the explosion of e-commerce have challenged brick-and-mortar retailers across the country. How can planners help their communities develop a thriving retail sector?

This PAS Memo provides insights into changing trends to help planners understand the forces at play in their communities and offers strategies to help planners deploy tools to support and sustain resilient local retail landscapes.


Page Count
Date Published
Jan. 1, 2020
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Bobby Boone, AICP
Bobby Boone is the Founder + Chief Strategist of &Access, a retail real estate and urban planning consultancy that create solutions for under-invested communities that pair current realities of the retail and commercial real estate industry with true community development. He translates experience from previous roles working with real estate developers, Fortune 500 companies, and municipalities to communities at the most risk. He has launched retail incubator programs with Sweet Auburn Works and Uber Eats, developed new policy and planning tools, and aided developers in developing equitable entrepreneurship opportunities, among other outcomes across the nation. Through &Access's strategic initiative, In-Place, Bobby has led a team in developing a new financial model to solve for commercial displacement challenges in minority communities. Driven by in-depth research and data, our replicable patient capital fund will support improving commercial properties occupied by minority-owned neighborhood servicing businesses. With this project and his work, he continues exuding "Excellence with Caring," the motto of his beloved undergraduate institution, Florida A&M University. Invite him for a drink or a bite at a local restaurant; he'll likely say yes to continue supporting independent storefront businesses in Philadelphia.

Rick Liu, AICP
Rick Liu, AICP, LEED AP is an Economic & Development Specialist at the Montgomery County Planning Department in Montgomery County, MD. He currently serves as the agency’s authority on topics related to economic trends and development economics, and frequently prepares studies related to economic development, market trends, and feasibility analysis in support of the Department’s master planning process. Recently, he served as project manager for a Countywide Retail Study that comprehensively looked at the new forces and trends reshaping brick-and-mortar retail, in efforts to assess the health and future opportunities of the retail market in Montgomery County. Along with the APA, Rick is actively involved in various committees with the Urban Land Institute and the U.S. Green Building Council focused on creating better environments and regional cooperation. He has a Masters of City Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Urban Studies from Tufts University.