Publi­ka­tion: Old and emer­ging centers

Aktu­elle Publi­ka­tion von Prof. Angela Uttke in disP 185 – 2/2011



Old and emer­ging centers

Local food markets as today’s anchors in urban centers

Angela Uttke

Super­mar­kets and discount food stores are more than places of supply. They are places to meet and greet those in the commu­nity. Kids use spacious parking lots after store hours for skate­boar­ding and playing soccer. The latest news from commu­nity coun­cils are posted here. A “For Sale” board in the market is today’s neigh­bor­hood flea market.

Local food markets are anchors for centra­lity in many small urban centers. In the past decade however, as loca­tion and sale stra­te­gies are revised, many of these centrally located small and mid-sized food markets close and more spacious and auto­mo­bile-oriented loca­tions are opened. Results are not only new emer­ging commer­cial centers but also decli­ning tradi­tional urban centers. Often they lose their most important anchor busi­ness and main local supplier of ever­yday goods and services.

By the German spatial plan­ning law local autho­ri­ties have to secure the tradi­tional neigh­bor­hood centers as places of local supply, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and heri­tage. But the struc­tural inte­gra­tion and re-direc­tion of food retail deve­lo­p­ments into mostly densely built-up central loca­tions creates a dilemma for plan­ners. Plan­ners can see possi­bi­li­ties. Local food markets in general can stabi­lize tradi­tional neigh­bor­hood centers. But there is a large uncer­tainty in hand­ling the aggres­sive retail deve­lo­p­ments and the spatial demands of food market opera­tors, above all the very fast expan­ding discount food stores of German chains like ALDI or LIDL.

Given this general deve­lo­p­ment in food retailing, what can city plan­ners do to keep or to inte­grate local food markets into central loca­tions? The presented study was desi­gned to discuss: the situa­tion of discount food stores and super­mar­kets deve­lo­p­ments in urban centers; the coexis­tence of old and emer­ging commer­cial centers, both very much defined by the loca­tion of food retailers; spatial demands and possi­bi­li­ties to inte­grate the land-consump­tive layout of the modern food store deve­lo­p­ments into the urban texture of tradi­tional urban centers; and fields of action to influ­ence the loca­tion and design of food retail developments.

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