Retail in the 21st Century

Welcome to our eighth “Wednesday Workshop” where we breakdown the key characteristics of a city with natural charm. This week we’ll explore the rapidly changing landscape of retail.

With the emergence of online shopping and a shift toward more experience-based retail, indoor shopping malls and big box retail stores have been in decline for the past decade. During the recent pandemic these declines have been amplified as people reduce their risks by avoiding crowded, enclosed buildings, and instead opt for open air retail and dining in park-like settings.

As we plan for the future, the City of Groveland recognizes the strong shifts in the retail market and is planning for 21st century commerce. Our new code incorporates strategies for both experience-based retail (for gathering and community), as well as delivery-based retail (for online shopping and mobile ordering).

The benefits of open air, experience-based retail and dining are nearly limitless. Arguably one of the greatest benefits is the simple fact that it requires less overhead. Not having to lease or buy a large building space ⁠— and instead starting a food truck or market stand ⁠— significantly reduces the overhead and startup costs for new businesses. Outdoor, open air retail environments also have a high return rate of visitors as people prefer walking from place to place in an attractive outdoor setting. With fresh air, and room to roam these open-air environments also provide a place for people to gather while maintaining safe distances to avoid spreading viruses such as Covid-19.

For delivery-based retail, Groveland is uniquely prepared to accommodate a myriad of distribution, logistic and industrial facilities at the Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park. Featuring a central location between the Orlando and Tampa metropolitan markets, the Ford Commerce Park will soon be home to a 300,000 square foot Kroger/Ocado distribution center that will bring same day grocery delivery to the region. There are also talks of a 200,000 square foot Amazon distribution center starting construction later this year.

As part of Groveland’s upcoming Community Development Code, all new communities will include ample space for open air sales through main streets, markets, and park adjacent retail. The Ford Commerce Park will also have more streamlined zoning standards that encourage distribution centers and other uses aligned with where the retail market is heading.

The City has also taken several steps during the past 8 weeks to adapt to the changing needs of the community. Through the “Let’s Eat” initiative, new food trucks are showcased nearly every evening at Cherry Lake Park. A new Mobile Food Vendor application has also been rolled out to drastically simplify the process for food trucks and other outdoor vendors as they set up in the city. Regulations will be further simplified through an amended Special Events and Outdoor Sales Ordinance coming to City Council on June 15th.

Be sure to check out the image gallery for Open Air Retail Types. Please be on the lookout for more information on these new opportunities and remember to check back in next Wednesday as we continue unveiling elements of the all-new Community Development Code.

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