Upgrading Our Commerce and Retail

It’s not hard to look around and see the effects of an advanced Internet economy on yesterday’s commercial buildings, stores and malls. As the national economy continues to move forward, neighborhood shops and malls are forced to reinvent themselves in order to survive. Properties sit vacant and consumers choose to purchase everything from household goods to clothing from the comfort of their homes or even from their mobile phone.

The county’s land use rules for retail zones were created many decades ago, with almost no changes to address the changing nature of retail.. Nobody could have guessed back then what kind of 21st century retail market would be commonplace now, with retailers moving towards recreational or “experiential” uses like rock walls, trampoline parks, and specialty fitness centers.

We strive to continue to execute on a vision that includes new jobs coming back to the Point and upgrading our housing stock, but we must also address the changes in the retail marketplace. In an effort to create certainty among the business community and help them transform their retail spaces to support our upward climb, I sponsored bill 29-18 which addresses decades old retail zoning practices that hindered businesses and jobs.

29-18 allows for things like trampoline parks and rock walls in retail zones where families can go to have experiences past typical shopping which can now be done entirely online. While these types of uses can be seen in places around the county, the arduous process of county planning and permits is a deterrent for most, and in my opinion an impediment to good business and jobs deciding to locate here.

29-18 is pro-business and pro-jobs, and the Council agreed as it passed unanimously last week with positive remarks.