In 2014, the Urban Land Institute, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) published “Retail in Underserved Communities“. The publication was the result of a convening of over 30 national urban markets experts (including our own Principal Larisa Ortiz) over the course of two days. Participants offered insight into the challenges facing underserved communities and the opportunities to advance both practical and policy solutions at the local, regional and national levels.
The basic challenges facing underserved markets are outlined nicely in the report. In addition to the lack of grocery options, underserved markets also often lack retail for convenient health care, dry cleaners, beauty salons, banking, and other neighborhood conveniences. This publication points out what we know first hand, the challenges are not simply “economic market conditions”, they often reflect site specific factors such as:
- Site availability and assembly
- Local approval processes
- Matching the retailer to the market
- Inaccurate or insufficient market information