Massachusetts Association
of Consulting Planners


  • Tuesday, February 11, 2020 5:25 PM | Leonardi Aray (Administrator)

    If in this new year of the new decade you are shaky about retail, you are right on. Headlines range from apocalypse to renaissance and everything in between. Be it AI technology, consumer demographics, or Amazon’s potential drone deliveries, it’s information overload and then what? Here is what is happening: 

    There are now three generations of shoppers: Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z-ers. They each have different lifestyles, but each has expressed a desire to shop in physical stores albeit they make uncomplicated purchases conveniently online.

    For other retail purchases these consumers prefer to buy in physical stores with human interaction, much of which comes from trained sales help or shopping with friends and family. “Back in the day” consumers shopped to accumulate goods at low prices. Today values have changed and consumers want a feel-good experience; otherwise, its home to click. 

    This means retailers have to know their customers, greet and meet them personally and know their shopping desires. Merchandise has to be selective and arranged creatively. The space has to be welcoming and warm. Amenities might include sofas and coffee, and above all shoppers want to touch, feel, and talk about the goods. The store becomes a laboratory to explore customer reaction and satisfaction with goods, services, and ambience. The store is also a flexible space capable of transformation as needs and habits change over time. 

    The future of retailers who understand the new order and adapt their concepts is bright since there is demand. Redoing has started with some department stores for selected urban locations: Target with smaller focused stores and Nordstrom with it’s trial of specialized stores. 

    Regarding specialty retailers, Lululemon(Newbury St.) takes customer experience to the next level. The second floor has a café with tables for laptop work, comfortable seating, studio space for Yoga and Meditation classes, showers and dressing rooms. It’s as if the merchandise on the first floor is simply a complement to upstairs…a convenience in case you forgot your yoga gear.

    New generation retailers from the internet keep appearing. Some are direct-to-consumer stores; e.g., Bonobos, men’s apparel: others are just market-right, like LEGIT (Chestnut Hill) unique athleisure apparel. In New York and Los Angeles new concepts are constantly debuting that with success expand to major markets nationwide. 

    The take away: We have entered a new retail era , one without a formula except to cater to the customer. Its neither a boom nor a renaissance, but a thoughtful and artful return to rebuilding an industry.

    Carol Todreas is a principal at Todreas Hanley Associates, Cambridge, Mass. and a member of the Massachusetts Association of Consulting Planners.

    This article first appeared in the New England Real Estate Journal

  • Tuesday, February 11, 2020 2:21 PM | Anne McKinnon (Administrator)

    The Salem News reported that Danvers voted overwhelmingly to rezone the downtown and High Street corridor south of Porter Street to Rte. 128.

    "It will create predictability with development for the next 30 years and I urge you to support it," said Dan Bennett, chairman of the Board of Selectman. The extensive new rules and design guidelines would ensure that development would not go on in a vacuum as it has in the past.

    Planning Board Chairman Bill Prentiss said the work over the past 18 months by the Planning Board and the Planning Department, and its consultant Ted Brovitz, was a continuation of an effort started in 2006 to look at industrial areas in and around the downtown that date back to the original zoning code of 1946."

    Read The Salem News article Danvers remakes its downtown 

  • Wednesday, January 29, 2020 12:36 PM | Daphne Politis

     "Greater Boston is thriving... Can Greater Boston reap the rewards of a booming economy without sacrificing the people who are just trying to live there?"
  • Friday, January 17, 2020 11:41 AM | Anne McKinnon (Administrator)

    WalletHub ranked 100 U.S. cities across three dimensions:  accessibility and convenience, safety and reliability, and public transit resources. You may be surprised at Boston's rank.

    Reprinted in Metro mag: 

  • Friday, January 10, 2020 5:22 PM | Leonardi Aray (Administrator)

    Boston Cyberarts Gallery usually leans toward the future. In this exhibition, curators Mark Favermann, Keaton Fox, and George Fifield look to technologies of yesteryear, spotlighting contemporary works in art and design intended to provoke marvel, which are mechanical or animated by natural phenomena such as gravity and wind. 

    Through Feb. 16. Boston Cyberarts Gallery, 141 Green St., Jamaica Plain. 617-524-2109,

  • Saturday, December 21, 2019 8:09 PM | Daphne Politis

    "It seems to be an article of faith among some urban planners that transit can’t be private. If it’s to serve poor demographics and remote areas, the thinking goes, it needs heavy public planning and subsidization. But that view turns out to be parochial. Cities worldwide—including in the US—have proven that with the right conditions, private transit can flourish. It often does so in spite of attempts by the government itself to shut these services down."

  • Saturday, December 21, 2019 7:51 PM | Daphne Politis

    1. From NIMBY to YIMBY

    2. Mitigation and Adaptation

    3. Tactical Urbanism

    4. Social Equity in Planning

    5. Shared Cities

    6. The Era of Big Data

  • Thursday, December 12, 2019 12:44 PM | Daphne Politis

    "How the patron saint of progressive urban planning’s ideas and ideals were implemented - and corrupted."

  • Friday, December 06, 2019 4:04 PM | Daphne Politis

    "The Pacific Northwest is leading the way for bicycle safety at the state level, according to the latest report from the League of American Bicyclists."

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