MEREDITH Strategy + Design

We design the places and spaces where people come together to do great work

Lawlessness and cannibalism rule the streets

In a single day's edition, the New York Times reflected on what sounded like progressive abandonment of both city and suburb as a result of the reversal of fortune emerging in the economy. Image from The Road

The exclusive boutiques and shops catering to the super-rich can no longer afford their traditional addresses on Madison Avenue and are moving out.

New York’s most elegant shopping corridor, the Gold Coast of Madison Avenue, from 57th Street to 72nd Street, is pockmarked with vacancies as retailers flee sky-high rents. More than two dozen retail spaces are on the market and are either empty now or about to be. Windows that once showcased hand-tooled leather suitcases are now plastered with for-rent signs.

The crunch is a result of factors including the arrival of big box lxury retailers like Ralph Lauren, and the arrival of jewelers whose product allowed smaller footprints with bigger returns. Now, the rent to sales factors of 25% no longer work and the exodus is beginning.

They apparently aren't going to the suburbs. Alison Arlieff in her On Design column evokes the post-apocalyptic world of Gormac McCarthy's, The Road, describing a world, imagined by her readers and evoked by a recent commentary, where a "desolate, polluted land is dotted with abandoned homes and buildings that have been stripped of all valuable parts, and lawlessness (and cannibalism) rules the streets."

Where did everybody go?

A clue comes from a new report from the Pew Research Center on Social and Demographic Trends. Apparently a bit of warmth and a slower pace is what a bunch of are looking for these days.

By a ratio of more than three-to-one, Americans prefer living where the pace of life is slow, not fast...By about two-to-one, they prefer to live in a hot-weather place over a cold-weather place.


In the meantime, in Detroit, backfill proposals are filling the air. First, for a bit of context, Pew's report says, "When asked about specific metropolitan areas where they would like to live, respondents rank Denver, San Diego and Seattle at the top of a list of 30 cities, and Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati at the bottom."

Nonetheless, California seems to be coming East. Back in April, Michigan enacted one of the most aggressive film-making incentive packages in the nation, and producers are taking note. More than four major studio developments have been announced this week.

We are hoping that all of this is permanent and that that it fits into our Creative Corridor initiative intended to draw attention to the creative industries here and, in spite of Richard Florida's template, actually develop a community of creatives in a cold, segregated environment.

In a delicious irony of ephemera, one proposed studio will move into the former MGM Grand Casino property, itself the former home of the IRS regional offices in Detroit.

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