I have been writing about neighborhood retail for as long as we have done the Advocate, but even I was surprised by what I found in researching this month’s cover story. Turns out almost all of us are tired of big box stores, big box store parking lots, and the entire big box experience. We want smaller, more neighborhood friendly retail, and this held true for all five of our neighborhoods.

Obviously, whether we get that retail will depend on when the recession ends and how progressive developers want to be. One of the other surprises? That so many developers, and not necessarily younger ones, are buying into the idea of neighborhood friendly development.

The city council’s upcoming debate on form based zoning will also be important. As one neighborhood leader told me: “It’s not form-based zoning that worries us. It’s whether it will be used as an excuse for spot zoning, so that developers can put up whatever they want wherever they want.”

One other note: This month marks the debut of what we’re calling Advocate Radio, where it’s always about the neighborhood. We did our first ever podcast for our Lake Highlands magazine, where we discussed the future of the Lake Highlands Town Center, which is currently under development. We’ll be doing podcasts highlighting local issues and local music on a regular basis.

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