Restructuring the Commercial Strip: A Practical Guide for Planning the Revitalization of Deteriorating Strip Corridors
Commercial strip corridors are a common sight in American towns and cities, but many are experiencing disinvestment, resulting in vacant, abandoned, and underused properties such as abandoned gas stations and obsolete retail strip centers. Despite this disinvestment, these corridors remain key parts of regional transportation networks and are often well positioned for reuse and redevelopment because of the high volumes of traffic that they continue to experience.
EPA's Smart Growth Program commissioned Restructuring the Commercial Strip: A Practical Guide for Planning the Revitalization of Deteriorating Strip Corridors to provide communities with guidance on how they can revitalize these commercial corridors to accommodate economic growth, reuse land already serviced by existing infrastructure, and reflect the unique character of the town or city where they are located. In addition, revitalization achieves positive environmental outcomes, including clean-up and reuse of contaminated properties, helping to protect regional water quality by reducing the amount of paved surfaces in a watershed, and decreasing air pollution by reducing the amount people need to drive to get to everyday destinations and thus cutting harmful emissions.
This report provides readers with comprehensive corridor redevelopment strategies that pay careful attention to both sides of the corridor's right-of-way line. The report provides guidance on planning land uses together that reinforce each other and on the redesign of the right-of-way itself to change it from an auto-oriented roadway to a multimodal community street. Implementation strategies that can help local governments orchestrate revitalization efforts are also discussed. The overarching goal of this report is to provide communities with a credible and reliable development context within which private and public dollars can be invested to create a different type of corridor, from which residents, business owners, the municipality, and other stakeholders can once again derive value.
EPA's Smart Growth Program has conducted five Smart Growth Implementation Assistance projects that involve corridor redesign or revitalization. The reports from these projects may also be helpful to other communities dealing with the same issues.
- McCall, Idaho: The city requested assistance to ensure that development along a new road would be consistent with McCall's character and would meet the city's goals.
- Taos, New Mexico: The commercial strip leading into Taos did not match the town's historic character, and the town wanted to explore options to make the development more attractive and economically stronger.
- College Park, Maryland: The city was not getting the type of development it envisioned along U.S. Route 1 and wanted assistance in implementing its vision for a community Main Street.
- Denver, Colorado: EPA provided assistance to help the city implement living streets concepts along commercial corridors in the region.
- Las Cruces, New Mexico: The city requested assistance in developing a robust public participation model to use in making development decisions that affect middle- to lower-income residents, including redeveloping a commercial corridor.