Rethinking the Retail Strip

Report by MAPC
January 11, 2022

Metropolitan Area Planning Council   (Boston)

Ubiquitous and evocative of a bygone era, suburban strip malls today are often outdated, plagued by vacancies, and filled with unmet potential. In a new report, Rethinking the Retail Strip,” MAPC analyzed more than 3,000 strip malls and similar shopping centers across Greater Boston, then set out to understand the potential impacts of redeveloping them into walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. Could they help close gaps in access to affordable housing, transportation, and more?

The report found that if just 10% were redeveloped into mixed-use projects, 124,000 homes could be created, increasing building values to the tune of $479 million in extra tax revenue for host communities. What’s more, if new developments are built using the state’s 40R smart growth zoning bylaw, municipalities could be eligible for payments totaling $1.2 billion upon rezoning, an average of $3.2 million per site