Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Nothing Stays the Same

At the beginning of 2021, it was predicted that retail vacancies would continue to rise. We’ve heard a lot about the need to rethink functionality and interior space, etc., but what about the Main Street, the ground-level storefronts that are longing to have tenants? Maybe there is opportunity in the openings.

I recently read an article about the potential this space has for forming neighborhood identity and re-imaging how we want our cities to look and operate. Instead of only being a series of boxed-off stores and restaurants, what if city zoning adapted to make ground floor space more open to a mix of flexible work space, service-based businesses, exercise facilities, education space or even a satellite library? The goal here is to create more “porous environments,” with a mix indoors and out, allowing both circulation and continuity. Think of a community center that spans the city streets.

I was in Mobile this week with a customer who asked if I would like to go downtown for lunch. My response was, “Sure, it might be interesting.” I saw the first stages of what the article shared taking shape, and I must tell you, there was a lot of conversation and smiles shared on this tiny main street. We are all yearning for social interaction (at least most of us) and creating environments that foster it seems healthy and more vital than ever.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.