"The wonderland window displays of wooden toys that once greeted shoppers who crossed the bridge over the Charles River into Moody Street's heart are no more," the article notes. "And the Construction Site is not the only independent enterprise to leave the street in recent months. The past year has also seen the departure of Maxima Gift Center, Harry's Shoe Store, Brickman's Furniture, and Lexington Music Center. "
Why the woes? The piece says:
"A lack of unity and cooperation among business owners, the absence of an overarching plan for encouraging shopping and business in the downtown area, slow foot traffic during the day, a lack of parking in the evenings, complicated city permitting processes, the loss of large anchor stores such as Jordan's Furniture (which left Moody Street in 2004), and not enough affluent shoppers interested in buying higher-end products."
It's a cautionary tale for those who believe "redevelopment" is a process with an end, as opposed to needing continued nurturing and updating. One analyst quoted in the story believed the area's "inner city" urban issues are scaring away affluent suburbanites, but a shopowner who closed a Waltham store told the Globe that many customers weren't from Waltham. There are plenty of residential units around, but most of those people likely work elsewhere. Are the stores open late enough at night to attract the locals? The loss of Jordan's as an anchor store was difficult for many other businesses. What can draw people to the retail center? Is there enough variety and critical mass to appeal to locals year after year? Is there a need to try to attract more daytime businesses to the area where people working in jobs other than retail could shop there during lunchtime? Particularly as the economy softens, even successful downtowns have to work to stay that way.