The story of 21st century urban renewal is told through the businesses that populate it. The promise of comfortable living alone isn’t the driver of change, as a neighborhood needs to support all dimensions of urban life, and that means amenities that make a place worth settling in. It’s the full experience of living in a certain area-the urban lifestyle embodied by a previously overlooked, newly enticing neighborhood that’s become a destination for the young and upwardly mobile. Across the country, we’ve seen development in retail, restaurants, and the arts becoming the guiding force in renewing formerly underserved and even blighted areas.
New retail spaces are a staple of contemporary urban renewal projects thanks to their ability to bring in money from both visiting shoppers and permanent residents alike. Walkable shopping districts are a prized asset in cities around the world, and those looking to set down roots place walkability high on their list of criteria when choosing a place to live.
That’s not to say, however, that the bigger names don’t have their value. A place like a new Whole Foods location can serve as a beacon to retailers that covet the customer base that is sure to follow. From there, formerly empty storefronts fill up with retailers eager to get in on the action: pharmacies, coffee shops, movie theaters, the foundation of a thriving neighborhood.
Of course, no day of shopping is complete without taking in a good meal. Celebrity chefs and social media influencing have made the restaurant eating experience into a destination in and of itself. These places are also a necessary oasis of comfort in areas where such feelings might sometimes be in short supply. In bustling, crowded cities, restaurants serve as a meeting place, providing a communal experience that can’t be replicated at home.
As far as the work of developing growing neighborhoods, the promise of a new and enticing culinary experience has been proven to drive attention. In a survey, 46% of respondents said they would travel to an unfamiliar neighborhood to try a new restaurant. The trendy dinner tables of renewing districts have been the staging area for much of the urban renaissance of recent decades, and are an inextricable part of the revitalization.
For city dwellers with a number of living options, there are few better attractions than a thriving art scene to set a particular neighborhood apart. From Williamsburg in New York to Wicker Park in Chicago, we’ve seen sometimes overlooked areas flourish in relatively short periods of time thanks to an artistic presence. Whether it’s aesthetic intrigue or the cache of living amongst cutting edge creators, the presence of a creative community puts eyes on areas that might not have garnered such attention in the past.
The numbers back up the idea that the arts are fuel for urban renewal. Studies have shown growth in investments and revenues surrounding cultural districts dating to the 1990s. Such dedicated spaces serve the double purpose of increasing property values while giving new life to previously overlooked areas.
Much of the work of making urban renewal happen is about changing perception. Altering long-held beliefs about an area, especially a long-neglected downtown, can be a big ask. A mixture of attractive retail, enticing restaurants, and vibrant arts has proven to be this century’s winning combination for giving life to previously neglected urban zones. Downtown LA has become one of the latest exciting sites of such revitalization, and Mosser’s living spaces give new residents the exciting chance to experience the best of urban living in the West Coast’s most exciting city.