California APA Conference 2019: Reinventing Suburban Retail in the Face of Digital Disruption

Barbara Nelson, MUP, AICP, Senior Project Manager at FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS) will moderate a panel at the 2019 California APA Conference in Santa Barbara, CA.

Working with FirstCarbon Solutions, Dyett & Bhatia Urban and Regional Planners, BAE Urban Economics, and the City of San Ramon developed a long-term Retail Strategy to foster local business growth and a stronger local economy. This collaborative project was strategically designed to be sustainable and responsive to retail sector trends.

The retail sector has experienced a rapid shift as online megastore trends take hold. Many consumers now prefer to shop online, and brick-and-mortar stores have had to undergo massive strategic changes—or close altogether.

To thrive in this new environment, ensure fiscal and environmental sustainability, and improve quality of life for local communities, approaches to retail strategy must adapt. How can existing retail shopping centers evolve, and how should new strategies be designed in an auto-centric suburban setting?

In 2018, the City of San Ramon collaborated with FCS to develop a comprehensive city-wide Retail Strategy. Created to guide the transformation of retail centers and underutilized areas of San Ramon into mixed-use developments, the Strategy outlines key implementation actions recommended to achieve objectives, including:

  • Fostering vibrant, community-oriented retail/commercial nodes;
  • Revising parking standards to achieve better balance for consumers and amenities; and
  • Promoting the role of retail centers as community gathering places.

In this session, representatives from the City and FCS will discuss lessons learned in developing a retail strategy that addresses citywide opportunities and constraints, and share ideas related to promoting retail center owners to revitalize or redevelop their centers to strengthen performance and enhance community quality of life.

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Barbara Nelson, MUP, AICP
Senior Project Manager, FirstCarbon Solutions

Barbara Nelson has 33+ years of experience preparing planning policy documents and related environmental documents on land use and design topics for projects throughout California. As a Planning and Building Director, she has an in-depth understanding of the municipal entitlement process, environmental issues, and working successfully with public and private stakeholders.

Debbie Chamberlain
Community Development Director, City of San Ramon

With 29 years of experience and as Community Development Director, Debbie Chamberlain and her colleagues are responsible for all environmental and land use related services and permits, including information about new developments in San Ramon. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Debbie has been a member of the American Planning Association since 1990 and serves on the League of Cities Housing, Community, and Economic Development Policy Committee.

Andrew Hill, MUP
Principal, Dyett & Bhatia

Andrew Hillis an urban planner with expertise in land use planning, community development and environmental review. Innovative and collaborative, his work is rooted in a strong commitment to sustainable placemaking and meaningful stakeholder involvement. He has led integrated teams of experts in preparing general plans and environmental impact reports (EIRs) throughout California, and he has more than 15 years of project management and leadership experience in the fields of planning, construction management, and engineering.

David Shiver, MCP, MBA
Principal, BAE Urban Economics

David Shiver’s 30 years of experience in land acquisition, development, leasing, negotiations, operations, and public benefit programs all enhance BAE's “hands on” approach to public real estate development advisory and planning services. David leads BAE’s extensive mission-driven real estate development practice, including strategic planning, development agreement negotiations, and related public agency advisement.