MURP STUDENT THESIS
Alice Fessenden Fall 1979
Neighborhood Shopping Centers in Denver's Suburbs Can They be Pedestrian Criented?
DEC 2 0 1999
by Alice L. Fessenden
Advisor Conni Cones
En Des Thesis PCD 1979
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning
The University of Colorado Denver Center College of Environmental Design
190 Fit 7
MURP STUDENT PROJECT
The purpose of this research is to analyze the neighborhood commercial center as it exists in the Denver metropolitan area suburbs and determine the feasibility of adapting the neighborhoo shnpping center to a smaller scale with greater pedestrian access The area's suburban development began with the surge of tract housing construction following World War II. The basic pattern of development still exists and is characterized by generally large lots on curving infrequently travelled streets. The suburban development pattern necessitates the use of the car which distorts the suburbanite's perception of what is con-viently located.
The neighborhood shopping center of today caters to the automobile. The grocery store which provides the financing security and primary drawing power is an enormous AO,ODD square feec or more. This, in itself, demands a large market area
which could not totally be located within walking distance in the current suburban land pattern. Because of the large market area required, the developers of neighborhood shopping centers feel that exposure to a large amount of traffic is necessary. Therefore, the neighborhood shopping area is located on the edge of a neighborhood, facing the street, with a large expanse of parking visible from the street. Pedestrian traffic is discouraged by not separating pedestrian and automobile traffic
arid by rarely connecting the center directly to the neighborhood.
Research done for this paper indicates that smaller, more frequently located centers that uould appeal mare to pedestrian traffic are passible but not probable due to suburbanites dependence on the automobile; the market indication that large grocery stores uith many non-food items are desired; and the conservative attitude of financing institutions which tend to support new centers based on the pattern of the old ones.
NOTICE: THIS MATERIAL MAY BE PRO l ECTED BY COPYRIGHT LAW (TITLE 17, U.S. CODE).
Table of Contents
Reasons for Research 1
Scope of Research 2
Clarification of Terms A
The Suburban Atmosphere
The Development of Suburbs A
Character of Today's Suburbs 5
The Neighborhood Shopping Center
General Characteristics 8
Stores and Store Layout 11
Shopping Center Operation
Factors Influencing Operation 18
Development Costs 22
The Convenience Store Alternative 26
The Market 27
Outside Influences on Neighborhood Shopping 28
The Neighborhood 36
The Present Shopping Alternative 37
The Neighborhood Shopping Center Alternative 37
The purpose of this research project is to analyze the neighborhood commercial center in the suburbs and determine the feasibility of creating neighborhood commercial centers with a special orientation to pedestrians in the suburbs of the Denver metropolitan area.
The neighborhood commercial center as dealt with in this research is a group of stores selling goads and services used in daily living. The anchor store is a grocery store. Other stores might include a beauty salon, liquor store, bank, drugstore, cleaners, barber shop, medical or dental office, restaurant, ladies clothing store, real estate office, cards and gifts, or a coin laundry. The center is geared to provide the everyday needs of a limited residential population. The size of the center could range from 2 to 10 acres with leasable area ranging from 30,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet.1 Off street parking is provided to serve the center at no charge to the customer. The center is designed, developed, operated, and controlled by a single ownership.
Reasons fur Research
oJhy is it important to investigate this alternative type of shopping in Denver area suburbs? There are a number of reasons. One factor is the energy shortage and the move (forced and voluntary) towards conservation of fuel resources. This necessitates less automobile travel. A center that provides goods and
services that are used frequently should be located within the neighborhood and provide a way for pedestrians to have direct and pleasant access to shopping.
A neighborhood commercial center can also assist in giving a an otherwise bland suburban area a touch of character and identity. The identity aspect can serve external and internal purposes. External identity is established by providing a node for distinction of the area from other neighborhoods. Internal identity is established by providing a place for gathering and interaction.
Neighborhood commercial centers are also important because a smaller shopping area is more likely to offer a personal approach to customers. In an era where life often moves too fast to offer an individual a feeling of importance and belonging this aspect becomes increasingly significant.
Scope of Research
Suburbs used to be considered as urbanized residential communities located outside the corporate limits of a large central city, but culturally and economically dependent on the central city. Gut, the suburbs are changing. Denver has continually decreased in its proportion of the metro area's population from SS/o in 1950 to approximately 32% in 1978.^ As suburbs continue to grow there is an increasing demand for jobs, shopping and entertainment opportunities. Suburban areas in Denver responded to this demand in the creation of industrial-office parks and shopping areas both regional malls and service areas. These areas could be considered to correspond to the downtown area and neighborhood commercial area throughout the history of the
Denver's downtown has remained vital through adapting to current needs; however, the old neighborhood service area has declined or failed to exist in many areas. This fading in vitality over the years has lead to a current movement of revitalization requiring not only large private, but public investment.
uJill the suburban neighborhood commercial area face the same decline in future years? Can suburban neighborhood centers adapt to the pressures of a changing society and retain viability? Although these are the underlying questions in this research much more information than provided in this report will be required tci arrive at a justified conclusion.
The scope of this research is to analyze the Metropolitan Denver suburban neighborhood commercial center and begin to look at how it might be improved. This paper will examine the characteristics of suburban neighborhoods and the potential market in these neighborhoods followed by an overview of the neighborhood commercial center and how it meets the needs of the market. The research also cavers outside influences an the development of the suburban shopping area such as government, financing institutions and commercial enterprises that would be likely tenants in a neighborhood shopping area, in an effort to determine why neighborhood shopping areas are built at a large scale on the edge of the neighborhood they serve with strong automobile access and weak pedestrian access.
Clarification of Terms
In this report a neighborhood is the physical, residential area surrounding the shopping center. Although it would be convenient for the neighborhoods in this research to be social, economic, and political units the report does not investigate this facet of the areas involved. It is assumed that in the suburban areas examined in this report there are social, economic, and political similarities as noted later.
A pedestrian oriented area is one that is designed with pedestrian access and mobility in mind. The area does not necessarily exclude vehicles, but it gives special attention to those using modes of travel other than motorized vehicles.
Gross leasable area (GLA) is the area in a store on which tenants pay rent the income producing area.
The Suburban Atmosphere The Development of Suburbs
The suburbs are no longer bedroom communities subservient to the central city. From 195D to 1960 the suburban population increased A0% and from 1960 to 1970 increased 28%.^ By 1970,
37% of the U.S. population lived in the suburbs. The growth in suburban population began following UJorld War II. At that time apartments were scarce and expensive while tract housing was available and comparatively cheap. Advertising campaigns told of the advantages of suburban living. As the movement to the suburbs gained momentum, private industry responded to the encouragement of public policy. Government programs were created to provide
The primary move was in
financial assistance for home purchases, the creation of government guaranteed mortgages which allowed lower interest rates and longer terms.
In the 195us the move to the suburbs was in full swing.
Later, momentum was added by the insecurity of living in the central city and racial fears. Lower income neighborhooos in the city saw an influx of minorities. These groups, hampered by racial and cultural disadvantages were stuck at the bottom of
the economic ladder. The increased social costs that cities had
to bear increased taxes and the move to the suburbs.
The diversification of employment opportunities did not occur simultaneous to dispersal of residential opportunities. In fact, the super block concept advocated the separation of commerce and residential activity. It was this concept that encouraged construction of housing that was not necessarily in close proximity to employment centers. The concept endorsed a living atmosphere that was focused on the greenery possible with large suburban lots. This meant that suburban residents commuted to the city for employment ana cultural opportunity. The suburban shopping district adapted to this pattern by locating in a strip type development along commuter routes.
Character of Today's Suburbs
As the suburbs weaned themselves from such strong dependence on the central urban area, the retail activity followed the decentralization of demand. By 1970 the suburbs across the U.5. offered only one million fewer jobs than the city and only one
worker in four commuted from the suburbs to the city. The commercial activity of the suburbs followed the trend. Large enclosed malls, surrounded by parking, formed the central commercial business districts while the population's daily needs were diverted to smaller centers located on busy streets.
The suburbs represent the compromise of a dweller's yearning for the peace and quiet of the country and the economic and cultural opportunities of the city. A survey done in 1977^ revealed that only 23% of metropolitan dwellers want to live in metropolitan areas. 13% expressed preference far a small city,
20% a town or village, and 29% preferred rural isolation.
In part there is a yearning for the country plus the desire to own one's own piece of property. Decisions about where to purchase a home relate to the style of the house, the status, prestige, and social homogenity of the area, greenery, the topography and view, safety, and good schools.
Suburbs do not necessarily have to be closely tied to previously built up areas. The dispersed urban form they create will continue to develop if the population is affluent enough to purchase personal transportation. Low density residential development is highly valued by our society. Within suburban communities uses are segregated requiring personal transportation to reach shopping, work, or cultural activities.
The desire for the country atmosphere and the general feeling that relationships with neighbors are not of utmost importance may in part be reflected in the design of many suburban subdivisions. The curving local streets serving numerous cul-de-sacs
emphasize the desire for quiet, not heavily travelled streets.
The majority of the development in the suburuan area where this study is concentrated (suburban southern and eastern Metropolitan Denver) is in single-family units. The smallest lot size for new development in these areas ranges from 6,000 square feet to several acres. 5eldom are pedestrian walkways incorporated anywhere but along the roadway (which would not provide the shortest distance to an activity center). The suburb is designed for the use of the automobile.
Suburban dwellers tend to make more money, are younger, more likely to be mairied, have more children and have more education than their city counterparts. Suburbs are preferred by nuclear families with children below college age. Open space, greenery, and traditionally good schools are most often cited as the qualities sought by families choosing suburbs. The median suburban
income in Denver area suburbs ranges from i17,Q90 to ^22,t+78.
This income bracket defines a particular lifestyle one that
tends to make families more selective, personal, and segmentalized
in their neighboring. The middle class stresses good manners and associations with good people which may in part account for the desire to have a play area for children which can achieve more selectivity of playmates (backyard). The lifestyle of suburbanites also tends to be restricted to the immediate dwelling. The general inward-turning character of suburban life emphasizes one's private facilities and entertainment rather than public.
Suburbs are associated with high levels of localism, that is, their social circles and interests are concentrated in their
immediate residential localities. Suburbs also tend to have a more conservative political viewpoint.
Neighborhoods are not self-contained units and should not be conceived that way; however, people do depend on the neighborhood for their everyday life eating, sleeping, personal services. That is one reason the neighborhood commercial area is important.
The Neighborhood Shopping Center General Characteristics
The shopping center is a concept developed in the 1930s as a group of shops that could provide one-stop shopping with protection from the elements.The concept developed partly because the old strip commercial development that extended out to the suburbs couldn't accomodate the one-stop shopping with parking on the same site.
Some of the characteristics of the suburban neighborhood shopping center include a unified architectural treatment as opposed to strip commercial development's miscellaneous assemblage; a total site usually with room for expansion; on-site parking; service facilities for deliveries; and a tenant grouping that facilitates compatibility and cross-traffic among stores. Lf these characteristics the parking on-site in adequate amount and in the proper location is probably fundamental.
Neighborhood shopping centers need a minimum of 1,CG0 families to support their existence 2,000 if the center is in a lower income area.*'''' Four acres is considered an appropriate site area for 8 to 12 shops the main tenant being a supermarket.'1'
Retail outlets are attracted to the outer suburban sites by the ease of access by car, the availability of space for parking and extensive shop layouts, and the potential market in an area that is beginning to experience residential build-up.
It has been reported that most neighborhood centers have been developed by tract single-family home builders; however, in this area the centers tend to be developed separately or by the major tenant (a major supermarket chain). Location of a neighborhood shopping area is recommended on the "going home" side of the street. This location is preferable in that it makes access easy for suburbanites returning from work. Df course, the size and type of the center, relation to the area served, availability of adequate site area, and local shopping habits will influence location also.
uJhen selecting a site the developer considers whether the population is stable and growing. In some cases a sitE is purchased based on projected growth areas and developed when the residential growth reaches the area. Residential areas with families are better neighbors to a shopping area than those areas with singles or the elderly, primarily because they tend to buy more. Income of residents in the area is also a factor in site location with i>12,Li00 to tfl^jQOO being the median.'*'^
Access. Access is another important consideration in shopping area site selection. The site must be accessible to people moving or gathering on errands other than shopping. The best location for a neighborhood shopping area is on a major street
and/or near an intersection of major or secondary thoroughfares.
It must be easily accessible from its market area. It is best if
the adjacent streets do not carry too much traffic, e.g. a four-
land street carrying AO,000 vehicles per day would be too con-
gested to be a goad site for a neighborhood shopping area. Automobile access to the shopping area directily from the neighborhood is an idea that developers tend to support. That is a street connecting the residential area behind the center to the shopping center's parking area. Uften, however, local regulations prohibit this access due to the perceived neighborhood resistance. Some shopping center developers feel the more access to the center the better and some of the newer centers in the southeastern metropolitan area have vehicular access from the adjacent residential neighborhood.
Site characteristics. The physical character of the site is
also important. Consideration is given to size, shape, topography,
and availability of services. A parcel that is not bisected by a
street and provides ample area would be desirable. Topography
must be considered as it relates to possible drainage problems.
The slope should not be more than 2.5% to 3%. The site should
also have a good load bearing capacity. Line of the higher costs
of Development is the provision of utility service. The site
should be located near lines capable of providing adequate service.
The minimum size for a neighborhood shopping center is A acres
with a site depth of AOQ feet recommended; however, as grocery stores grow so does the number of support stores and the required parking and, therefore, the site. Sites surveyed for this report
ranged from approximately 8 to 15 acres. Only one center contained less than 10 stores in addition to the supermarket. Although no one size or style of grocery is most effective for all neighborhoods in all situations major chain stores are being constructed at a size over AO,000 square feet. The large size answers what the major grocery stores believe is public demand and accomodates the expanded line of products. Supermarkets no longer find it economical to carry only food items. Between 1950 and 1966 the number of items carried by a supermarket rose from 3,700 to 7,000 with mast of the increase in 17
non-food items. The non-food items carry a larger gross profit and the larger volume of products allows lower prices because less money can be made on each product.
Market area. The primary market area for a neighborhood shopping area is a one-half to one mile radius; however, natural or artificial barriers or competition can alter that area.
An artificial barrier can be a major highway; and competition can even be another store of the same major chain.
Stores and Store Layout
Types of stores. The neighborhood shopping center could be made up of a number of stores. A scattered survey of shopping areas serving neighborhoods found certain types of stores most prevalent. (See Table 1) The independent tenant (not associated with a.chain operation) occurs more often in the neighborhood shopping center.
Tenants effect on one another. The combination of tenants
Tenants Mast Frequently Found in Neighborhood Centers
Tenant classification Rank
Beauty shop 1
Medical/dental office 3
Cleaners (dry) 5
Barber shop 6
Ladies ready-to-wear 7
Restaurant uithout liquor B
Real estate office 9
Cards and gifts 10
Coin laundries 11
Liquor and wine 12
Variety store 1A
Ladies specialty clothing 15
Service station 17
Yard goads 18
Radio, TV, Stereo 19
Ice cream parlor 20
5ource: Dollars and Cents of Chopping Centers:
1975. Urban Land Institute: Washington D.C., 1975. Fage 176.
within a shopping center provides an opportunity for each merchant to be more successful than if he were located outside the shopping center property. Although the availability of parking may be more important than the site location, the location factor is still important and the developer-owner must be free to select tenants who will provide the desired balance and image. Some research done indicates that some types of business tend to be more compatible with other types of business. (See Table 2)
Stare Layout. There are several basic store layouts established for neighborhood shopping centers. One of the most common site plans is a straight line with an unbroken rear wall. The parking for this type of center is immediately in front of the stores.
Neighborhood Convenience Center Store Compatibility
Source: Nelson, Richard L. The Selection of
Retail Locations. F.iiJ. Dodge Dorpuration:
New York, 1958. Page 72-73.
The L-shaped center is an often used layout, but has some definite disadvantages. One disadvantage is thg,there tends to be a significant walking distance from one end to the other. Another disadvantage is that a freestanding gas station or drive-in eating establishment blocks the view of the center and may have a trashy or junky appearance.
Another type of center that demands two or more strong traffic generators is the mall design.
In any design, continuous walls and uniform depth make construction and maintenance easier. Isolation of the loading area from the consumer has also been a common practice.
In store layout, interruptions in the pedestrian flow are harmful to adjacent retail establishments. Possible interuptions include dead spots where the shopper loses interest in going any farther, driveways and physical breaks in the sidewalk, cross traffic either vehicular or pedestrian, or areas identified with hazards, noise or odor. Businesses that generate traffic that create congestion or short term parking discourage pedestrian traffic.
It is also important to plan flexibility in the shopping center so extensions, expansions or changes can be accomodated.
Parking is one of the standard characteristics of a neighborhood shopping area. In a center developed in a normal singlefamily neighborhood at least two-thirds to three-quarters of the site must be devoted to parking.
Parking lot design. The parking requirements for a neighborhood shopping center should be based on a study of the size of the stores and type of merchandise carried; size of the trade area; amount of walk-in business; character, cost, route and schedule of public transit; incidence of auto ownership; and the effect of the energy crunch. A good parking lot layout for a neighborhood shopping center takes into account alternate sites from the viewpoint of transportation, access, and feasibility
of entrance; building placement that harmonizes with the direction
of approach; distribution of parking and placement of entrances;
an internal circulation system for autos and pedestrians; and,
a parking layout that fits the internal circulation system. It
has been a common practice to locate all of the customer parking
in the front, thereby setting the center as far back from the
road as possible. It is more important that the parking be more
visible than the stores to exhibit convenience and patronage.
The depth of the parking lot; however, should not be more
than 600 feet as this is the maximum distance a shopper will
walk to the stores. If the customer must park farther than
600 feet he will probably repark, Within the parking lot, long
runs of parking should be avoided and replaced by diversions
to prevent cars from taking quick short cuts.
Amount of parking. Standards for the amount of parking
felt to be necessary are more realistically expressed in number
of spaces instead of a ratio of building area to parking area.
The Community Developer's Handbook sets the standard parking
index for shopping center parking at 5.5 spaces per 1,000 square
feet of gross leasable area (GLA). This is felt to provide
adequate parking for all but the 10 highest hours of demand.
Neighborhood shopping centers parking ratios tend to be higher,
probably due to the large number of trips 115.8 to 156.3 trips
per 1,000 gross square feet versus 3A.5 to A3.9 trips per 1,000
gross square feet for a center of 500,000 to 999,999 gross square 19
feEt. These figures show there are more trips made to neighborhood centers. This is due in large part to the traditional
location of a grocery store in a neighborhood center.
Shopping Center Operation
Factors Influencing Operation
The operation and management of a shopping center mill either make it successful and profitable or a failure. Most of the operation involves a balancing of dollars and cents; however, other factors can effect the operation such as: changes in the nation's economy; changes in the demographics of the market area; the competitive environment; transportation to the center; expansion of the center; turnover or loss of tenants; or, change
in ownership or management. It is also important to figure out operation costs prior to development.
Sales volume. Neighborhood centers tend to show a high sales volume per square foot due in large part to the large proportion of GLA occupied by supermarkets and others that generate a large number of trips and a high sales volume. The operating result of a neighborhood center is exemplified in Table 3.
Rents. Rents in neighborhood shopping centers in this area
ranged from $5-7 per square foot in 1976. Maintenance fees
for the parking lot, mall and other public areas was $.13 per
square foot of GLA and advertising and promotional fees ran
approximately $.QL per square foot of GLA. These costs are
commonly avoided in older areas and neighborhood centers because
of the low occurrence of merchant's organizations. Gnly 39%
of neighborhood centers have a merchant's association.
Operating Results Per-Square-Foot of GLA for Neighborhood Shopping Centers
Dollars per-square Percentage foot of GLA (median) of total _______________________receipts
Gross leasable area 52 :,052
Tenant sales 378.91
Rent $ 2.A2 9 A.A%
Common area charges .09 3.7%
Other charges .09 3.7%
Total Operating Receipts 3 2.62 100. O/cj
Building maintenance Parking lot, mall and other $ .0A 1.6%
public areas .09 3.9%
Central utility systems .03 l.A%
Office area services Total Maintenance and House- .0A 1.8%
keeping Expenses 3 H-* CD 6.8%
Advertising and promotion 3 .02 7/o
Real estate taxes .32 12.2%
Insurance .05 2.0%
General and administrative .11 A. 9%
Total Operating Expenses .71 28. A%
Operating Balance $ 1.62 71.6%
Number of centers in sample: 163 - -
Source: 0. Ross McKeever (ed. ), Dollars and Cents of
Shopping Centers: 1975. (Uashinqton D.C. : Urban Land
Institute, 1975): Page ISO.
The effect of age. Age influences the operating arithmetic
of a shopping center. From a developer's viewpoint, new center?, one to three years old, have the lowest funds after debt service due to high financing costs. These centers also have the highest rent per square foot of GLA. A comparison shows that neighborhood centers between the ages of seven and nine years have the largest amount of funds after debt service which is profit. (See Table A)
Tenants. In recruiting tenants for a neighborhood shopping center the developer must recruit enough AAA rated tenants for a long period of time to show a financial institution that the center is capable of repaying the mortgage. In order to recruit large tenants for long periods of time a lower rent per square foot is charged in return for a long commitment. The type of store making this commitment is a national grocery chain. Local tenants, which predominate in neighborhood shopping areas will havE higher rents and a shorter lease so rent can be renegotiated more often.
Small tenants are often also required to present a financial statement. The base rent required in the lease must be adequate to guarantee continuing income flow. The lease may also include a percentage of the gross sales on top of the base amount.
Although the rent is the most crucial portion of the lease other items included might be: agreement about maintenance of the common area, store hours, merchant's association and cooperative advertising, sign restrictions, employee parking restrictions and a requirement that the tenant do business in that location
Net Operating Income and Funds After Debt Service Neighborhood Shopping Centers
Aoe 10 Years and over 7,8,9 Years A,5,S Years 1,2,3 Years
5/ sf of GLA o/ o/ sf of GLA 0/ /0 3/ sf of GLA % 3/ sf 0/ of GLA
Rental income-minimum 2.00 83.6% Â£ 2.35 79.7% 3 2.A1 90.0% Â£ 2.76 95.0%
Rental income-overages .27 12.0% .3A 13.5% .2A 9.5% .03 1.2%
Rental income-escalation charge .06 3.2% .09 A. 1% .05 2.0% .1A A.3%
Income-common area charges .08 3.5% .11 A. 6% .08 3.5% .12 3.6%
Income-sale of utilities .OA 2.2% .01 .3% .09 5.2% .00 .0%
Miscellaneous income .02 .6% .02 .8% .00 .3% .01 .8%
Total Operating Receipts 3 2.AA 100.0% 3> 2.83 100.0% 3 2.91 100.0% 5 3.09 100.0%
Building maintenance 3 OA 2.A% 3 .OA 1.5% 3 .05 2.2% Â£ .02 .7%
Parking lot, mall, etc. .08 3.9% .10 3.9% .11 3.9% .10 3.9%
Central utility systems .OA 1.9% .07 3.0% .03 1.3% .03 1.1%
Office area services .03 1.6% .07 A. 0% .08 1.6% .06 1.9%
Financing expense . A2 16.3% .83 29.0% 1.23 A2.2% 1.55 56. A%
Advertising and promotion .01 .5% .02 1.2% .OA 1.1% .03. 1. A%
Depreciation/amort-deferred cost . A1 16.9% .58 20.3% .6A 22.9% .63 27.7%
Real estate taxes .29 13.2% .39 12.6% .35 15.3% .28 8.7%
Insurance .05 2.3% .05 1.6% .05 1.3% .06 1.9%
General and administrative .11 5.A% .12 A. 3% .12 3.9% .11 A. 2%
Total Expenses # 1.A2 66.3% 3 1.89 7 A. 8% 3 2.72 91.3% 3 2.83 105.6%
Net Operating Income (Loss) $ .7A 33.6% i .73 25.1% 3 .21 8.6% 3 (.12) (5.8%)
Add: Depr. & amort.-deferred cost 3 . A1 16.9% Tt* .58 20.3% 6A 22.9% 3 .63 27.7%
Deduct: Mortgage principal pymts. 3 .37 1A.0% .37 1A.0% 3 .36 11. A% 3 .28 9.6%
Funds After Debt Service 3 .78 37.6% 3 .99 32.8% $ .70 20.2% 3 . A7 16.0%
Note: Because data are medians, detail amounts do not add to totals
Source: 0. Ross McKeever (ed.), Dollars and Cents of Shopping Centers: 1975. (uJashington D.C.: Urban Land Institute, 1975): Page 173-175.
for the term of the lease.
General costs. The arithmetic of the neighborhood shopping
center is the most vital function in the development process.
Those who develop centers have a good knowledge of financing
and the lenders know of tenant mix, competition, and growth
trends. The amount of money borrowed for each square foot of
GLA in 1956-66 was $10 to $20.^ In 197A the cost ranged $16.59
to $35.95 per square foot of GLA.
Capital costs. The capital cost of developing a shopping center includes land ana land improvements; buildings ano equipment; and, overhead and development cost prior to opening.
The overhead and development costs include: Planning, architectural and engineering design, fees of an economist, attorney, and tax consultant, market and traffic surveys, leasing fees and commissions, finance charges, taxes, and pre-opening publicity.
Methods of financing. There are various methods of financing shopping center development. The most common is for the owner or developer to pursue construction and permanent financing for the development as the entrepreneur alone. Other methods include a joint venture or pooling of resources, land sale leaseback where the developer can sell his land and lease it back from the lender to obtain higher amounts of financing; sale leaseback in which a developer might get 100% financing by selling a center and then leasing it back and operating it, and several others.
Although the shopping center developer is usually interested
in securing an equity position in a large holding with a small cash outlay it is better to invest in the purchase of the site for a smaller center due to the costly nature of negociating a land lease.
Tenants and financing. Tenant commitment becomes important in financing a shopping center. If the desire is to obtain a high mortgage and make a profit on the construction job the developer should seek well-rated tenants. Obtaining the commitment from the major tenant(s) is basic for estimating the project cost and framing the lease arrangement with other tenants. The major tenant's commitments are important because not only are they the traffic generators, but their long-term leases support the mortgage. Approximately 70% of shopping center space is
leased to merchants who's rent can be capitalized for acquisition
of long-term financing.
Construction financing (the short term loan for building the center) is usually obtained locally. This means the local economy largely controls the availability of loanable funds. (However, insurance companies are taking an increasingly active role in this field.) Also, in borrowing, a loan with floor and ceiling amounts is preferred to compensate for inflation or projection error.
Types of financing. There are two types of financing involved in the development of a shopping center. The first is a construction loan which places a mortgage on the project for a short time and will carry an interest rate of 2-3% more than the permanent loan. The construction loan is made for twelve
to eighteen months. The interest rate in August 1979 was 13%%.
Construction financing. In applying far a construction loan the developer can expect to submit the following information lease commitments from major tenants; plot plan; standby commitment from a permanent lender; resume of the developer education background in business and other projects he has completed; a bank reference in writing; a detailed financial statement from the owner-developer; detailed projected pro forma of the proposed shopping center; feasibility or market analysis; the name and Dunn and Bradstreet rating of the contractor; the name and resume of the project architect; a detailed breakdown of costs on bank
forms; final plans and specifications; and financial statement
and credit report on major tenants. Thomas Dinkle, Vice President of the Continental National Bank, noted that the most important factors are the financial strength of the owner and contractor and the plans and specifications.
Permanent financing. The permanent financing will be the long term mortgage on the project. Permanent financing partially depends on the caliber of tenants. If the tenants are local
Ma and Pa type outlets, the loan may be only four or five times
the rent roll and may not even cover the construction cost.
Even though local operations pay good rent, they are not viewed as highly by mortgage lenders as AAA-1 rated chains. In fact, a lender may have an unwritten requirement that the annual debt service b equalled by the minimum rents of the AAA-1 tenants.
A permanent loan submittal requires more information than a construction loan and because the decision to lend may be made
by executives some distance away who have never seen the site it is important to provide required and support information. Information required includes: copies of the AAA-1 leases for review and approval of the lender's attorney; appraisal of raw land and completed projects; detailed market analysis including comparisons; aerial photos; plot plan showing all utilities, drainage plan, square footage of buildings, square footage of total site, parking, layout and conformance to zoning; vicinity map showing all commercial projects and office development on major thoroughfares; artist's rendering; and a copy of the construction lending agreement.The most important of these criteria are the quality of the tenants, the length of the leases with quality tenants, the financial strength and reputation of the owner and developer and the quality of construction.
Investment potential. Neighborhood shopping centers have proved to be a good investment. They produce income year after year which is considered a capital gain taxed at one-half the ordinary income rates.The continuing income flaw from a neighborhood center can be largely tax sheltered by a depreciation reserve and is bankable; that is, banks will make open account loans on financial statements showing continuing income flow.
An example of the solid and secure investment offered by shopping centers is that only 15% of all shopping centers built in the last twenty years have been sold by the original developer and, of the shopping centers in operation BS% are still owned by the original developer.^
Financing of shopping centers will continue to be provided
by life insurance companies, real estate investment trusts (REIT), and pension funds as there is substantial physical collateral (in land and buildings) and the AAA tenants in effect co-sign the mortgage so their combined rents provide funds for the systematic retirement of the debt.
The Convenience Store Alternative
Because of the cost of developing a neighborhood shopping center, the center that serves the area is increasing in size.
This is due not only to the increased size of grocery stores in order to handle more items and volume and, thereby, reduce their prices, but the increased cost of developing a small center versus the extra cost far increasing its size to the point of greatest cost/benefit.
The regional aspect of grocery stores and the prices offered led to the end of the "Ma and Fa" grocery store. But, the small store concept has been revived by catering to the modern urge for instant gratification that it, supplying the items desired in a short period of time. This replacement is the convenience store, and the most prevalent is the 7-11 store.
The convenience store averages 2,ADD square fEet and although once dominated by staple foods, the best products today are fast food sandwiches, disposable diapers, and Playboy magazine (perhaps because these items are more readily associated with a convenience store). The customers (1,000 daily) spend an average of Â£2.50 per visit which adds up to almost #1 million in sales per year.
The 7-11 operation, owner by Southland, encompasses 7,600 stores
in <+8 states. The total annual sales in 1978 was close to
^3 billion. The operation must encompass many stores to support
the computer system that surveys stores and sends the appropriate
item in the appropriate amount to each store.
The 7-11 type operation got the edge on the "Mia and Pa" stores by offering long hours, handy locations, plenty of parking, and diverse merchandise. Milk and bread are competitively priced, but other items are higher priced to compensate for the convenience.
There appears to be a large market for convenience and yet, the 7-11 store concept has been the only attempt to satisfy the demand. Is there room in the market for a store or shopping area offering a middle ground with both super convenience and low prices?
uihen reviewing the market for a neighborhood shopping center the following characteristics will probably be studied: the papulation within two miles and their income; new residential development in the area (particularly the two mile radius); the economy of the area and employment gains; the accessibility of the proposea location to the market papulation; and, the competition, which would be all stores (existing or proposed) within a two mile radius.
In studying neighborhoods Suzanne heller, the author of The Urban Neighborhood, found that the facilities that were most desired within a twenty minute walk were an elementary school,
grocery store, shopping center, bus stop, religious building, and a drugstore. The grocery store appeared to be the one facility located close to a residence that was most frequently used; however, no more than 50% of any urban population was found to rely exclusively on the local grocery.
Another neighborhood study showed that residents would shop more in the neighborhood if there were more stores with a better range of merchandise at competitive prices in a safe, clean, and attractive environment."^ Convenience is also a factor of attraction to a shopping area, so it could be that a ten minute walk (instead of heller's proposed twenty minute walk) might be a more appropriate guide for considering a shopping area in the neighborhood.
In considering the feasibility of the market area for a neighborhood shopping center it may be important to consider how much income is spent for personal consumption expenditures.
Spending Pattern far an Urban Family of Four
Lower Intermediate Higher
Income Income Income
cr o/ Jp /o 'll o/ '*? /O /to
To:al Budget 310,AS1 100% 317,106 100% 325,202 100%
Total Consumption 8,657 13,039 17,9A8
Food 3,190 30% A, 098 2A% 5,159 20%
Housing 2,0S3 20% A, 016 23% 6,085 2A%
Transportation SOL 8% 1, A72 9% 1,913 8%
Clothing 82 B 8% 1,182 7% 1,730 7%
Personal care 282 3% 377 2% 535 2 %
Medical care 980 9% 985 6% 1,027 V/b
Other consumption A89 5% 909 5% 1, A99 8%
Other items (gifts, ins) A72 5% 763 A% 1,288 5%
Taxes and deductions
Social secr/disability 632 6% 961 6% 985 A%
Personal income tax 720 7% 2,3A2 13% A, 980 20%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
and will in future development serve the suburban neighborhood. Among these elements are those of a public nature, such as government regulations, and those of the private sector such as the attitudes of large chain store executives, developers and lenders. There are other forces that appear to be interpreted by the public and private sectors. These forces are shopper's preferences, neighborhood attitudes, and the energy crisis.
Government influence. Government intervenes in the marketplace by making rules that regulate health, safety, the environment, and information. Same examples of government intervention include housing policies that favor suburbanization; transportation programs that encourage spraiul; tax policies that favor construction of new facilities over the renovation of older ones; and,
unequal taxation and distribution of taxes. More specifically the fragmented nature of suburban government makes it difficult to plan anything other than the single family home in an established pattern.
The most restricting government regulation is that of zoning -a system of classifying and separating uses that are deemed to be incompatible. Public officials in the past have been better in following the real estate market in granting commercial zoning than in guiding a desirable commercial pattern. In checking with a few communities experiencing quite a bit of suburban growth, it appears that neighborhood shopping areas are restricted.
In all three of the areas surveyed Arapahoe County, Aurora, and Lakewood the neighborhood center as proposed in this paper
would be allowed in the planned development type of zoning. Generally, this category allows originality of design in planning by relaxing some zoning standards in return for good design and amenities. This zone allows incorporating a combination of uses; and, one such combination would be that of commercial activity and residential use. However, the nature of the planned development zone is to give the planner some flexibility in working with a developer. In only one community investigated (Arapahoe County) was there a willingness by the planning staff to accept an attempt to work a commercial area into the center of a neighborhood. Aurora, while endorsing the concept of incorporating commercial and residential uses into an area, seemed to encourage commercial sites on the edge of neighborhoods where they would be fed by major streets and arterials and, thereby, in my opinion, encouraged to develop in a larger scale than that needed to serve a neighborhood. The commercial node policy that is proposed as a part of Concept Lakewood (the policy plan guiding Lakewood's development) appears to encourage the same type of development as Aurora particularly, shopping areas that are larger than necessary and not located in the center of the neighborhood. Another restriction noted in the commercial zoning of Lakewood is that the type of commercial node allowed to serve a primarily residential area would allow a 7-11 type operation, but not a supermarket. The deciding difference is whether the items sold are stored on the premises or not.
Zoning is the major governmental influence on neighborhood shopping development. In a mare specific area, zoning ordinances
tend ta require more parking than necessary resulting in an adverse appearance. Landscaping should be required in local shopping center development; however, the developer tends to resist arbitrary specifications because he feels collectively they unduly impose on him. It is sometimes unfortunate that government specifically regulates, as it hinders conscientious developers. However, regulation can also impose higher standards on fly-by-night developers.
Another local government influence is the cost of services. Because of the cost of utilities, due in part to the size of the lines demanded by the commercial nature of the development, it is more economical to build a larger shopping area.
Private sector influence. The chain grocery stare developer
is interested in satisfying as many of his consumers' needs as
possible. He also feels that a grocery store cannot be economically
successful on just marketing food; therefore, groceries now stock
an increasing number of non-food items to offset the low gross
profit on food. This factor, plus the volume Df business which
allows the grocer to make less money on each product, thereby
lowering the consumer's price, contributes to the growing size
of new supermarkets. All the large grocery stores are not
favorable to always locating in an area with subordinating stores.
King Soopers feels that the shopping center arena provides more
reasons for coming to the center and increases spending.
Although the site selector for Safeway noted there might be more business in a center, he indicated Safeway would locate anywhere they felt there was an adequate market.
The larger neighborhood shopping area was clearly supported by those interviewed that work in the private sector; particularly, one which incorporated enough area to allow two competing grocery stores. The most common example of this is a major intersection with shopping center developments on two or more corners.
Doth developers and lenders involved with neighborhood shopping centers cite the market as the most influential factor in the size, location, and composition of the neighborhood shopping center.
It appears that large housing developers do consider the shopping needs of the residents of their new suburban developments. Dean Thomason, Assistant Uice President of U.5. Homes,* said they reserve and sell eight to twelve acre packages on main streets for commercial development. U.5. Homes does not develop the commercial areas themselves. Mr. Thomason mentioned they had tried smaller commercial acreages (three to five acres), but there was virtually no interest from developers for purchase.
The Writer Corporation* also feels that shopping and trans-
portation needs are important far their residential developments. Although most of Writer's projects have not merited their own commercial area (insufficient market) the existing or available land for convenient shopping and transportation is considered.
Writer will incorporate a five to ten acre commercial area in the Willow Creek development. Although Steve Delva, Director of Planning for the Writer Corporation, said that a commercial center
*11.5. Homes and the Writer Corporation are development firms that have constructed large single family housing subdivisions in the Denver metropolitan area.
could be designed in a way that would not negatively impact the surrounding neighborhood, market forces and possible traffic problems will dictate that the commercial location be on the edge of the development on an arterial. Mr. Delva also cited the market forces as the most influential in locating the commercial area to serve the neighborhood. The market study for uJillow Creek has identified 3,00C households by 1980 as the minimum adequate market area. The aJriter development will include 1,600 homes, so it becomes even more important to locate the commercial area on the edge of the development in order to catch some of the market from the surrounding area.
The traffic generated by the commercial area centrally located was cited as not desirable according to Delva. This element combined with the merchant's desire for exposure to passing traffic dictates the location on major streets.
The lender in shopping center development also considers location in his consideration for financing. High visibility and good access are the prime elements in evaluating location. Because of the importance of these factors, lenders would hesitate to support a commercial area located in the center of the neighborhood, according to Thomas Dinkle, \Jice President of the Continental National Dank.
Most of the opinions of those involved with shopping center development are based on desires of the market and estimates of the effect of other influences such as the pattern of growth, increasing inflation or the energy crunch. This project was not intended to do in-depth research in this area, but it is
important to note a few of their conclusions.
A community's need for commercial development is expressed in terms of buying power. The greater the buying power the more commercial development that can be supported. The supermarket developers believe the public is demanding the large store and non-food items. They also feel support for the one-stop shopping concept and feel that it saves energy, borne planners are more leary feeling that the energy situation may eventually necessitate the building of smaller, more frequently occurring areas where it will not be necessary to have automobile transportation for day-to-day needs.
Goth groups felt that suburban residential neighborhoods would not favor the shopping area located so near due mainly to the traffic generated and the possible influx of crime. However, as one planner noted (Don Paul, former Director of Planning for Arapahoe County) there has not yet been a good example of a small
shopping center integrated into a suburban neighborhood in Arapahoe County and the same is true for other areas. He seemed to feel that if some good examples existed some of the neighborhood fears would dissipate.
Mr. Delva felt the energy situation would encourage smaller centers (70,ODu 30,000)square feet) and that grocery stores would locate in these centers with an adequate market present.
He also felt that new developments would begin to provide a housing mix plus office and commercial space. Because the service centers would only develop in the amount that grocery stores would locate there may be another type of center occupied by a
group of specialty stores something similar to Tamarac Square (located at South Tamarac and East Hampden) only on a smaller scale.
Suburban neighborhoods develop around one primary use the
single family residence. Qualities valued by suburban residents
include spaciousness, beauty, a countrylike atmosphere, privacy,
and greenery. Suburbs are also perceived as better neighborhoods
in which to raise children. Suburbanites tend to be younger, more family oriented, make more money, and be more conservative than city duellers. The uoman of the household is likely to be employed outside the home, and if not, she tends to be more educated than her counterpart in the 1950s uhen suburbia began.
The adequacy of local facilities effects uhether suburbanites go outside their immediate area for uhat they uant or need. The possession of an automobile, an almost essential item in the suburbs, alters the perception of distance of facilities. Drivers perceive these facilities as conveniently located.
Generally, persons in lou income neighborhoods require shops and services closer to home. Possible explanations may be louer rates of auto ownership and cultural and ethnic preferences.
The local shopping area is probably most important for those immobilized by old 'age, family responsibility, ill health or income a population that is not prevalent in the newly developing suburban neighborhood, but may one day reside there.
The Present Shopping Alternative
Some kind of shopping has always served residential areas. The corner "Ka and Pa" grocery, which served one hundred to two hundred families gave way to the supermarket, which serves over fifteen hundred families, due to the need for parking and the option of offering lower prices by increasing volume, lowering profit margins, and instituting a self-service system. The strip commercial area tended to move into a shopping center mode due primarily to the need for parking. The supermarket growth left a gap for a new interpretation of the "Ma and Pa" corner shop. The convenience store, such as 7-11, filled this gap by placing numerous outlets in a wide variety of residential and commercial areas. Good access and convenience was offered at the cost of low prices.
The Neighborhood Shopping Center Alternative
Is it feasible to develop pedestrian oriented neighborhood commercial areas in the suburbs? I believe it is possible for neighborhood shopping centers to emphasize a greater pedestrian atmosphere; but, the true neighborhood shopping center that is located within and is geared to serve only the neighborhood is still just a possibility.
The local area (neighborhood) has lost a great deal of its importance. These days few facilities must be located or are desired close to home. These convenient facilities are an elementary school and a grocery store. The grocery store is the facility most likely to be used by locals, heller's survey results indicated 50% shopped for groceries only in their area
while AG% to 60% use a local doctor and 33% attend a local A3
church. This is an indication that competitive, viable small centers might have a market when developed with a supermarket as the anchor store. In developing the center the factors of shopping center failure should be noted and dealt with very poor location, very poor design, and poor leasing and tenant selection.
From a convenience standpoint the smaller shopping area located closer to the neighborhood would be successful. Anchor grocery stores could not be the A0,0QQ-plus square foot stores now constructed, but would not be as small as a 7-11, hopefully reaching a mid-point between super convenience and low prices. Support stores could supplement the grocery store's merchandise. The small centers could be located more frequently and possibly look similar to the rest of the area besides being pedestrian oriented. This would allow more diversity within the neighborhood instead of congregating it on arterials. It could be designed so as to encourage a constant flow of people from morning to late evening possibly even allowing residences above commercial areas for safety and monitoring. The constant flow of people might be accomplished by including or locating adjacent to community uses such as a library branch, health center, or recreation center or a church. A bus pick-up or transfer paint might be incorporated. Up to 20% of the GLA could be added in office space without creating a parking problem.
The shopping area should only be for the neighborhood in order to have the most beneficial effect on the subdivision.
The centrally located center would be the most logical to provide goods and services without the unwanted outside congestion. It could also best give the area identity in this location. The central area may also serve as a congregating place for women of the neighborhood who are its daytime residents. Because today's suburban woman is more likely to be more highly educated she needs some activity area to share knowledge, learn new skills or generally keep her mind more alert.
The Europeans strive to integrate the local center into the community and create a social place of the shopping area; and, although study has shown us that social solidarity and cooperation are not as responsive to physical layout and design as planners would wish, it is still important to provide the opportunity and diversity for neighboring or community activity to take place.
Suburban design must also contribute to this renewed concept in shopping. With energy conservation becoming more of an issue it will be important to encourage neighborhood residents to patronize the local center instead of one farther away. Pedestrian paths through residential areas and lots that would allow higher density and closer location to the commercial center would be important to a neighborhood commercial area. Pare important, shoppers must learn to use transportation modes other than the automobile.
An essential factor in reorienting the thinking of residents, large grocers, developers, and lenders toward neighborhood shopping is to reorient our attitude toward the car. The success of
a neighborhood shopping center depends on major tenants with drawing power and these tenants feel the exposure to automobile traffic is essential. We need to domesticate the car and make it useful to the human race rather than letting it rule our lives. This is not an easy step for suburbanites (or city dwellers) to take. The car has dominated our life style for many years. It has greatly influenced land development patterns, in fact, without the freedom of movement provided by the car the suburban residential land pattern would not be so prevalent. The car also provides a psychological and sociological crutch. Not only does an automobile serve as a private area in which forced contact with perceived undesirables is avoided, but it also serves as a status symbol. The dominant influence that the car has on our society will not change easily. But, by making other modes of transportation available, convenient, and stylish the move to diversity in movement may have a better chance for survival and growth. uJe need not abandon the car as a mode of transportation just recognize there are other modes that must begin to be used.
The majority of land in neighborhood shopping centers is devoted to parking (up to three-quarters of the site). Although free parking is a major identifying characteristic of suburban shopping it might be handled in a way that is not so overwhelming as the typical large expanse of asphalt. First of all, landscaping should be generously incorporated in the parking area and should be used not only to separate pedestrian access from vehicular access, but to guide vehicles in a safe and efficient
circulation pattern. Parking could also be shared with community uses located close-by, such as clinics, churches or libraries.
The Effect of Outside Influence
For neighborhood shopping to exist within the neighborhood a number of factors must be cansidereo and some attitudes must change.
The largest impediment to small neighborhood commercial areas that serve only the neighborhood is the market. The demand for a large supporting population and visibility to enlarge that market dictates the location and, to a degree, the design of the service oriented neighborhood shopping center. In order to resolve the market dilemma it seems that the shopping area should be smaller and/or more shoppers should be located in the immediate area. The latter may be more likely at this point in time as the price and finiteness of land plus the energy crisis may lead to smaller lots (therefore denser population), greater housing mix, and more job opportunities located close to residences.
Many other attitudes about small neighborhood shopping center around the market. The grocers feel that consumers are demanding large stores, but consumers also support stores such as 7-11 that sell convenience. Is it possible for a medium size store with more convenience features to survive in suburbia?
If so, there may be a drastic change in neighborhood shopping center design because the grocery store is the anchor of the market area and the financing.
If the anchor stores felt the market would support their locating in a smaller, neighborhood oriented shopping center
financing would be likely to follow given some solid statistics on the feasibility of the project. Developers and designers would then concern themselves with integrating a shopping center into a neighborhood, not on the outskirts. Provisions would have to be made to encourage pedestrian access, and thought given to resolving the possible auto congestion on local streets enroute to the center and within the center.
It is important for government to allow flexibility and mixed uses within suburban residential communities instead of perpetuating the concept of strip zoning or adopting the philosophy that there should be a large concentration of commercial area serving daily needs instead of providing the necessary services and products close to home.
Local governments have already begun to open the door for the neighborhood shopping centers by incorporating a planned development zone which allows the combination of a number of uses in the same area. Further incentive could be given by providing cost advantages on taxes and service charges in exchange for development compatible with the neighborhood.
IMeighbornooo shopping is a possibility, but not without some changes in the market and attitudes towards it.
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Denver Regional Council of Governments and U.S. Census Population Region 3 1900-1976.
John A. Dawson, "The Suburbanization of Retail Activity," Suburban Growth (London: John uJiley and Sons, 197A), p. 157.
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g *- -
Suzanne Heller, The Urban Neighborhood (Mew York: Random House, 1968), p. 153.
Sell, p. 36.
^ Joseph DeChiara and Lee Hoppelman, Urban Flanning and Design Criteria, Second edition (New York: 'Jan Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1975), p. AAA.
DeChiara and Hoppelman, p. AAA.
^ Telephone interview with Gary Brannan, Real Estate Division, Safeway Stores, Inc., May A, 1979.
Brannan, May 4, 1979
DeChiara and Hoppelman, p. 444
DeChiara and Happleman, p. 444
David Gosling and Barry Maitland, Design and Planning of Retail Systems (New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1976), p. 21.
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Joseph R. dagby, Real Lstate Financing Desk Book (Englewood Cliffs: Institute for Business Planning, 1977), p. 130.
2^ McHeever, p. 281
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23 Bagby, p. 131
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