Eradicate Your Community’s Food Deserts!

We were very encouraged to read The Supermarket as a Neighborhood Building Block by Mark Hinshaw and Brian Vanneman in the March 2010 issue of Planning magazine. The article asserts what many in the ranks community and economic development have worked toward for some time now – seeing grocery stores “reemerge as cornerstones of great places to live.” The one amenity most desired by residents within a neighborhood is access to a grocery store. In urban and dense suburban settings grocery stores should be at the center of our neighborhoods and their primary customer base should be drawn from the households found within a walkable trade area (which is roughly a 10-minute walk time or ½ mile).

Clearly most existing grocery trade areas do not fit this direction. Equally clear is the fact that our urban landscape is littered with food deserts – places without equitable or sustainable access to grocery stores and supermarkets. However as economic developers and redevelopment groups look to address underserved markets or as planners look toward future residential and retail infill, their mission will be to build walkable and sustainable neighborhoods. This goal, according to Mark Hinshaw and Brian Vanneman, “combines the principles of environmental, social and economic sustainability with the concepts of density, diversity and demographic change.”

Over the past nine months Buxton has been working to enhance the analytic tools we offer to those who need to both plan and develop these walkable grocery anchored neighborhoods and eradicate existing food deserts.

Buxton offers the ability to analyze any given market, neighborhood or location and provide the following insights:

- Sustainable square footage for a potential grocery store

- Sales forecast (weekly and annual) for a potential grocery store

- Merchandising and marketing decision tools based on the potential grocery store’s consumer base

- Identification and pursuit of specific grocery stores that match both the psychographics of the consumers within the trade area at the supportable square footage that has been identified

This analytic methodology can also be applied in order to provide:

- Holistic market analysis that identifies total square footage of grocery that can be supported by the broader community and optimizes the layout of the market to create a roadmap for developing pockets of grocery anchored walkable neighborhoods

- The ability to adjust neighborhood scenarios in order to account for variable housing densities (to support x square feet of grocery or to support y grocer you need to add z housing units to the walkable neighborhood trade area)

- Number of households that need to be added to support an existing or desired grocery store in a forward looking walkable trade area scenario. This application steers residential and commercial zoning and incentive policies.

Buxton also works to identify the square footage and types of additional retail services that can be supported by the neighborhood anchoring grocer’s consumer base. This analysis provides the whole picture for development of a walkable neighborhood.

Our aim is to help the public sector make timely, sustainable and effective decisions. Let us know what you are doing to eradicate your food deserts.

Journey Awareness Persona Economic Development/Elected Official City Government