Micro retail activity nodes: A planning tool to revitalize the suburbs
Messina, Romolo (Alex)
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The status quo suburbs of Canada and the U.S. sprawl out in inefficient, unsustainable, environmentally destructive, and economically harmful ways. The concept of Micro Retail Activity Nodes (MRAN) when utilized as a planning tool aims to help solve these pressing matters by encouraging and enabling densification of suburban spaces and supporting community activity nodes via incremental infill. The purpose of this paper is to introduce and define the concept of Micro Retail (MR) and explore the broad applications of this cutting-edge planning tool. A look into the history of the suburbs, an examination of the detriments of suburban sprawl, along with Nanaimo-specific case studies all provide context for the importance of micro retail activity nodes. An examination of other urban design movements such as the 15-Minute City, Smart Growth America, and Congress for the New Urbanism serve as examples of successful movements and how those principles can be applied to MR. This practicum establishes a scoring criteria to judge the viability of MRANs on potential sites anywhere in Canada and the U.S. In Chapter 11, a design intervention for a vacant lot in Nanaimo shows what an MRAN can look like via an aerial drawing and its corresponding precedents. The following paper hopes to embolden planners, politicians, and civilians with a planning tool that will make their suburbs more walkable, economically robust, environmentally conscious, socially engaging, and more liveable overall.