DFA University

DFA University offers business building educational content as an exclusive benefit to DFA membership. Any organization or business within a 1-mile radius of the Public Square is eligible to join DFA membership to enjoy this benefit. Register to attend the next DFA University session below!

"Downtown Shopping Districts: Best Practices"

Robert Gibbs, FASLA, AICP

Bob Gibbs is considered a global authority on the research and design of urban commercial centers and has been named one of the most influential urbanists of the past century by Planetizen and his peers. Gibbs is also an author, professional planner, landscape architect and real estate advisor. He also teaches at Harvard University, serves as the director of the Urban Retail Institute and hosts the Michigan Planning Today cable show. Robert earned a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, as well as a Bachelor’s and Doctor of Arts Honoris Causa from Oakland University.

"Downtown Shopping Districts: Best Practices"

During this Post-pandemic era, it has never been a better time for downtown shopping districts or for developers to build mixed-use retail formats. Surveys indicate that Americans are tired of malls and would rather shop in open air or lifestyle settings. Yet many recent expensive efforts to revitalize downtowns or build new centers have failed because the adopted design and planning recommendations hurt commerce. New and old towns need intelligent strategies for the survival of their commercial life; sustainable development and vibrant community life are impossible without these strategies. This timely seminar examines the retail design and merchandising principles used by premier retailers and shopping center developers and considers how they can be applied to downtowns. Based on his popular Harvard Urban Retail course and Urban Retail book, Gibbs will illustrate how the practical science of analyzing and adjusting all elements known to affect a shopper's mood in the marketplace has informed design and development principles for reviving retail in declining downtowns and for establishing viable commerce in new ones. The purpose of these urban retail planning principles is not to turn main streets into malls, but to give merchants on the street the same advantage that those in the most profitable shopping centers enjoy. Participants review the following proven practices: strategic tenant mix-merchandising plans, pedestrian movement, vehicular circulation patterns, streetscape, signage, parking and designs. The session will also cover latest market research and site selection criteria uilitized by leading retialers and shopping center developers. This session is designed for city officals, policy makers, DDA’s, retailers, architects, landscape architects, real estate developers, planners and Main Street programs.
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