We might have called this our “having fun” issue, considering how much discussion there is throughout about shopping, dining, traveling, and otherwise enjoying leisure time. That might seem incongruous with our cover focus on the challenges of creating vibrant, welcoming places that are as safe and secure as is practicable, but the concepts are closely linked. Developers and designers of cutting-edge mixed-use developments are putting their talent, money—and lots of technology—into building safety into their communities, but in the most unobtrusive manner possible. Their large-scale techniques may offer ideas that owners of smaller properties can adapt for their own use. “The Security Challenge,” which offers a close-up of the Peterson Companies’ National Harbor new town near Washington, D.C., begins on page 44.
Shopping is the focus of separate articles on markets in Mainland China, Europe, and the United States. Around the world, shopping center owners and developers feel compelled to enrich their products with more restaurants, theaters, arcades, and other leisure facilities so they can draw shoppers away from the comfort of their living room sofas and the convenience of online retailers. And traditional retailers that want to survive are accepting the idea that consumers today expect an integrated online and in-store shopping experience. A shopper might see a product in the store and buy the preferred color online. She might check reviews online and then buy the product in the store. Or he might return an online purchase to the physical store—and pick up a couple of impulse purchases on the way out. The Chinese experience is examined in “Scoping Opportunities for Mainland China,” which begins on page 23; European insights are presented in “ULI Europe: Shoppers Want Food, Beverage, and Leisure,” beginning on page 25. And members of ULI’s Commercial and Retail Development Councils offer their insights on the U.S. experience in “Outlook for Shopping Centers,” which begins on page 40.
In reporting for his review of tourist markets in Europe, author Kevin Brass found a number of sources citing security concerns as affecting tourism numbers—along with more traditional drivers of travelers’ choices, such as hometown employment levels and currency exchange rates. (Brexit seems to have given U.K. tourism a boost, thanks to the now more affordable British pound.) Across the region, tourists haven’t disappeared, but their behavior is shifting. In general, Europeans touring within Europe are staying closer to home—but they are taking longer trips when they do venture out, according to experts. Once again in this article, the topic of shopping comes up: it remains an important driver of travel, especially among visitors from China. “European Holidays” begins on page 52.
Finally, we also are pleased to present an article by visionary urbanists Peter Calthorpe and Jerry Walters examining how the rollout of autonomous vehicles might proceed in unexpected ways. While it’s lovely to imagine a new, driverless world evolving in a way that turns obsolete parking lots into lush, flowery parkland, there is no guarantee that autonomous vehicles will deliver us from traffic congestion and sprawl. They might even add to the traffic dramatically. “Imagine the implications of an autonomous vehicle drive-through at McDonalds,” they write. Indeed, the thought of empty vehicles zipping through town performing errands for their masters is chilling and should inform the choices we make as this technology develops. Autonomous rapid transit could save us from such unintended effects, the authors propose in “Autonomous Vehicles: Hype and Potential,” which begins on page 58.
Editor in Chief