Addressing retail vacancy in city centers of Gelderland: what can be learned from the Province of Antwerpen?

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för fysisk planering

Abstract: Recently, downtown shopping areas have faced a number of challenges, which have undermined their vitality and viability. Some scholars argue that the coincidence of long-term shifts in policies, demographic recomposition and mobility increase and medium- and short-term impacts of changes in business and consumers’ behavior has had negative impact on the economic performance of city center shopping areas. There is an increasing interest in retail vacancy in city centers as it reflects the declining performance of the shopping areas.Retail vacancy is a complex and extensive problem. It is associated with numerous issues such as neglect and under-utilization of space, and is often considered undesirable. Vacancy can lead to decay and dilapidation of the area, but also attracts crime and can thereby result in disadvantaged neighborhoods. In addition, vacancy is also undesirable in the context of a sustainable and efficient use of space. Due to the fact that retail vacancy affects not only economic performance of retailers, but also the area itself, the public space, and, therefore has a spatial characteristics, local and regional authorities are involved in the process of addressing the issue.The thesis aims at identifying different policy arrangements for addressing retail vacancy in Antwerpen province (Belgium) and analyzing their transferability to the institutional settings of the Gelderland province (the Netherlands). This research contributes to the existing academic literature on the retail vacancy by filling the existing gap and giving insights in policy arrangements and institutional environment of the issue in international comparative perspective.

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