I am excited to see this research getting more attention. I recently wrote a white paper for the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, which was recently posted on their website. Here is a preview.
If they work well, neighborhood commercial corridors make an important contribution to community quality-of-life, particularly in pedestrian and transit-dependent lower-income neighborhoods. Yet in many lower-income neighborhoods, these corridors don’t work well at all, which is why community developers have for years designed and carried out programs to revitalize these areas.
In 2006, Philadelphia LISC, in partnership with the William Penn Foundation and the City of Philadelphia, engaged Econsult Corporation, an economic consulting and research firm, to assess the performance Philadelphia’s commercial corridors, and identify those factors shown to improve them. Using extensive collection of very high-quality data and use of powerful econometric statistics, Econsult researchers have produced the most convincing evidence yet that the right kind of investments, including those typical of community-based revitalization efforts, can indeed improve corridor performance.
The bottom line: practitioners should focus on improving district fundamentals – store density and retail mix – through investments to identify and support district leadership, create business improvement and other corridor management districts, improve area attractiveness, and increase security. No surprises here to community development veterans, but the Econsult researchers have now backed anecdote with solid numbers.