Citywide Retail Strategic Plan: Cambridge, MA

Larisa Ortiz Associates developed a citywide retail strategic plan for the City of Cambridge.  The goal of the Retail Strategic Plan was to develop a strategy of best practice policies and programs that will support and enhance the ground level active use and retail environment in Cambridge.

The first phase of the work included an assessment of the City’s current retail landscape and trends, a city-wide and district-level analysis of demographics, psychographics, as well as extensive outreach to industry experts, institutional partners and local business community leaders.

While the full impact of changing consumer shopping habits remains unknown, retail real estate is increasingly feeling the reverberations of online shopping and its corollary - a strengthening market for products and services that cannot be purchased online. The City of Cambridge is especially vulnerable to these trends with high rates of residents having access to internet and making personal purchases online. As a result, local businesses’ success in the new retail marketplace will require innovation and ingenuity from the businesses, the business associations that serve them, and from the City.

Following a public presentation of the initial findings, a set of guiding principles were developed as a framework to ensure that Cambridge remains a viable location for businesses small and large to locate and thrive. Recommendations presented to the client identified the appropriate retail mix for each of the commercial districts, zoning and regulatory barriers to encourage new retail formats, and key actions the City might consider to enhance its marketability and visibility to retailers and other ground floor businesses.

The final recommendations were then presented to the Economic Development and University Relations Committee.

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NYS Downtown Revitalization Initiative: Middletown, Elmira, Oneonta, Oswego, Hudson, Watkins Glen

Larisa Ortiz Associates provided in-depth retail market analysis and recommendations to project partners, Stantec and BFJ Planning, as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), a $100 million dollar state initiative to support the revitalization of designated downtown communities across New York State.  LOA assisted DRI efforts by defining and prioritizing strategic interventions to catalyze further investment in various downtowns through an understanding of market demand potential and opportunities to improve the downtown retail environment.

The Retail Marketplace Analysis assessed key areas related to successful downtown business districts including the physical environment and business environments, market data and demographics to determine spending by residents, workers and visitors, and the administrative capacity necessary to advance the proposed DRI recommendations.

Recommendations that have advanced and received funding through the DRI include a Downtown Middletown Façade Improvement Program and small business revolving loan funds in Oneonta and Elmira to assist property owners looking to renovate commercial storefronts.


Assessing the Market + Updating the Business Mix

LOA has worked with many clients to analyze their retail markets and develop retail retention and business attraction strategies. Our work involves an analysis of market data, physical conditions, demographic and psychographic data, the local business mix, and competitive districts, as well as interviews with stakeholders and shoppers, which all inform a customized approach to retail attraction. We work hard to understand local trends by digging into real estate and transit data, reading local blogs, scanning Yelp and Foursquare data, and reviewing other less traditional sources, to provide a more robust market study. Final deliverables typically include an executive summary and a PowerPoint presentation to the client and stakeholders.

This creative approach enables our clients to begin collaborative partnerships with their local real estate communities, with the goal of attracting and retaining retailers that meet local needs, complement the existing mix of tenants and will have a healthy, long-term future on each corridor.

For each community, marketing materials – from brochures, to posters, to e-newsletters and websites – are designed to tell the unique story and vision of their district.

view a selection of marketing materials from recent clients

Strengthening the Tenant Mix in Seattle’s Chinatown International District

LOA was hired by the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda) to develop a commercial district retail attraction strategy which included a retail district market analysis. This work involved a study of demographic and market data, interviews with diverse groups of local stakeholders, and an assessment of the physical conditions of the business district.

Seattle’s Chinatown International District (inclusive of Chinatown, Japantown, and Little Saigon) is the center of entrepreneurial opportunity and offers unrivaled access to the largest customer base in Washington State. The area is adjacent to 250,000 downtown employees and a regional transit hub with average daily 25,000 bus and rail riders.  With affordable commercial rents and significant upcoming public and private investments, SCID is on the cusp of tremendous growth but struggles with commercial vacancy and competition from competing Asian business districts.

LOA’s market analysis formed a business recruitment and retention strategy that balanced innovation with preservation of the neighborhood’s unique cultural flavor.  LOA identified new, complimentary businesses to draw more customers into neighborhood anchors and institutions.  LOA additionally created retail attraction strategy to boost commercial growth and retention, including information and material to educate property owners and match them with viable tenants.

Citywide Economic Market Study: Trenton, NJ

Larisa Ortiz Associates conducted a Citywide Economic Market Study for the City of Trenton. The study was the first phase of a larger economic development planning process and served as a baseline collection of economic data so that the City’s new administration could make informed decisions about next steps, including development, projects, and prospects over the next 20 years. The scope of work included focus groups and interviews with Trenton residents, community leaders, institutions, property owners, business owners and real estate developers to provide an in-depth analysis of the current and future economic climate based not only in market, housing, and demographic data, but also on-the-ground input.

Trenton is experiencing a period of disinvestment from both the public and private sectors, and has remained stagnant as the surrounding region booms. In order to turn this pattern around LOA researched current citywide trends in demographics, employment, housing and physical infrastructure. The data informed the identification of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats found in Trenton. Our approach emphasized current assets –including the City’s rich history, building stock, anchor institutions and arts organizations – as starting points for development and investment in the city. The team also worked to identify and prioritize threats and weaknesses that may hinder investment or development if left unaddressed.

The final product was presented to the steering committee and Trenton’s new administration.

Strengthening Connections Between Downtown Glen Cove and New Waterfront Development

LOA, Magnusson Architecture & Planning and JGSC Group were retained by Glen Cove Community Development Agency to create an Implementation Plan for the City’s Downtown Gateway to the Waterfront Project.

Glen Cove underwent significant change, with major redevelopment projects underway at the Glen Cove Creek Waterfront and in the heart of downtown – bringing new housing, offices, hotels and retail into the community. This new development posed both an opportunity and a challenge for existing downtown businesses – there would be more shoppers but at the same time more competition. The Implementation Plan served to capitalize on this opportunity and enhanced the health and commercial viability of downtown Glen Cove by attracting appropriate retail and integrating existing commercial nodes with those new developments.

Our team’s work included a market analysis, including consumer surveys and stakeholder interviews, and a physical analysis of building stock, open spaces, transportation and connections, each informing a comprehensive blueprint for downtown retail attraction and recommendations for specific improvements and actions that would strengthen Glen Cove’s ability to attract retail and ultimately strengthen the business environment for all downtown businesses.

Retail Development Advisory Services, Fulton-Nassau Crossroads Program

The New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Hudson Meridian Construction Group hired Larisa Ortiz Associates to evaluate the program structure and design challenges facing the Fulton + Nassau Crossroads storefront and façade design program, a key component of the City’s effort to revitalize Lower Manhattan.

Our work served to connect Lower Manhattan’s business owners to the Façade Improvement Program in more effective ways, and provide strategies for improving implementation to maximize participation and achieve visible results. Specifically, our efforts focused on proposing a set of reasonable midcourse corrective action steps to the Façade Improvement Program to help facilitate the distribution of funds to eligible business owners.

Our approach included a detailed analysis of Lower Manhattan’s retail trends, shopper and merchant culture, and shopper profiles. This diagnosis, coupled with merchant surveys, informed a final mid-course correction strategy and guidance for future retail and façade improvement program development.

Strengthening the Business Mix and Attracting Tourists in Mount Washington

Larisa Ortiz Associates is a consultant for LISC’s Corridors of Retail Excellence (CORE) program, which provides local LISC offices on the East Coast and their partner CDCs with expert guidance in starting points for commercial revitalization. Over the course of the projects, the team provides market analysis, technical assistance, support and mentoring to community organizations. In Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington neighborhood, LOA worked with the Mount Washington CDC to demonstrate the potential of the neighborhood as a viable location for business by supporting the growth of existing businesses along the block.

Every year, 1.5 million visitors ride the incline to Mount Washington take in views of Pittsburgh; however, many of these visitors simply make the return trip down without patronizing local businesses. By implementing marketing strategies and decreasing retail vacancies, our strategy aimed to increase the visibility of the neighborhood’s Shiloh Street corridor and attract the interest of tourists and local residents to the businesses currently operating in the area. Our work also served to build the CDC’s capacity to improve tenant mix and overall retail density overtime, which will further enhance the competitiveness of Mount Washington as a destination for visitors. The marketing strategies that were implemented include wayfinding signage, a printed business directory, a “demographic snapshot” to attract investment, a mobile app, and a final press event.

ICSC Deal Making Preparation

LOA prepares clients to get the most out of participation in International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) Deal Making Trade Shows, both in New York City and Las Vegas.

For communities looking to ensure they make the most out of attendance at ICSC Trade Shows, we make sure you are well prepared and see a significant return on investment in time and resources devoted to retail attraction.

We have offered our clients a variety of tools and services to match their needs and budget. Generally they include the following:

  • Merchandising Plans - We use our 20+ years experience to answer the important questions – what kinds of retailers do you want, what kind of retailers can you support, and what kinds of retailers would be most receptive to opening a business in your community – saving you valuable time and resources; ensuring you pursue retailers who are interested, or could be persuaded, to open stores in your market.
  • Targeted Retailer Lists - Based on our analysis of your market, available spaces and community vision, we will identify retailers that reflect your communities “strategic position” into a manageable list of retailers who we will target at ICSC.
  • Customized Marketing Pieces - Our decade of experience attending ICSC on behalf of clients has exposed us to lots of “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to marketing material. Therefore, we are hyper focused on developing material that reflects your community’s unique brand and identity, clearly communicating to retailers the opportunities and information that they cannot easily get elsewhere.
  • ICSC Meeting Attendance - We work with you to develop a strategy for outreach that targets the retailer and/or their tenant reps who will be attending ICSC. This will ensure you have a productive set of meetings with the retailers you want, and are supported with compelling marketing material that allows you communicate retail opportunities in your community in the most effective way possible.