efinition (per Wikipedia): “A food truck, mobile kitchen, mobile canteen, or catering truck is a mobile venue that sells food. Some, including ice cream trucks, sell mostly frozen or prepackaged food; others are more like restaurants-on-wheels. Some may cater to specific meals, such as the breakfast truck, lunch truck or lunch wagon, and snack truck, break truck or taco truck.” What this definition forgets to say, is that food trucks are unfairly stealing business from legitimate tax-paying dining establishments, hurting them and the property owners looking for interested renters or buyers.
These mobile “restaurants-on-wheels” are popping up right and left in not only this city, but others abroad, and with the leniency in place to set up a mobile operation, why wouldn’t they? There’s less incentive for Joe’s Tacos to rent a space in the city’s dining hot spot when he can simply park his business there instead. Or for a newly successful restaurant to open a second, third or fourth location when they can join the trend and open a food truck for cheaper.
Reason.com recently published an article defending the operation (which IS technically illegal in most occurrences by the way), arguing: “Let people sell food to other people who would like to eat it, and use police power to go after criminals.” They followed up the sentiment with this video:
One nice guy with a cool hat says, “We’re just offering alternative to the people that work in this area.” Another food truck owner calls her business “fair competition”. I sympathize with anyone trying to make a living, I do, and who’s not a fan of cheap, good food? The problem is: These alternatives are NOT “fair competition”. Why? Aside from having a sidewalk advantage (while simultaneously polluting the street and using up street parking typically meant for the city’s visitors and employees), FOOD TRUCKS DON’T PAY RENT OR PAY REAL ESTATE TAXES, plain and simple, making the competition…not so fair. At the very least, street carts should pay heavy licensing fees for their operations, equivalent to the taxes paid by those who took the traditional route and opened immobile restaurants.
Wikipedia add-on: “Due to an apparent combination of economic factors combined with ‘street food’ being ‘hip’ or ‘chic’ there has been a rise in food trucks in the United States in recent years.” All I can say is, I hope the municipalities wise up and appropriately come down on these street vendors so they might operate on an even playing field with everyone else.
hy do it? Why pay more money upfront for a roof system that’s still new enough to be considered “non-conventional”? Why invest in landscaping a piece of your building that, unless you happen to pilot low-flying aircraft for a living, will seldom be seen anyway? Why?
A video I put together for www.goforchange.com, a website celebrating any and all things sustainable in the Mid-Atlantic region, and abroad…
Well for many, the environmental benefits are enough. Foremost, green roofs help improve a city’s air and water quality. Plants, shrubs and small trees replace heat-absorbing surfaces and help cool the air through evapotranspiration (evaporation of water from leaves). Instead of polluted water runoff hitting the streets, a green roof takes it in and recycles it back into the air, just like any green land surface would. Not to mention the roof’s new identity and purpose as a habitat for wildlife.
For those who shake their head at all the “green” hype that’s emerged over the past few years, the green roof “sell” also benefits from having considerable practical reasons for its case. For one, they’re virtually maintenance-free, needing only be inspected and weeded a few times a year. They provide insulating benefits, aesthetic appeal, and all in all have longer lifetimes than standard roofs. And if you’re considering pushing for getting your building LEED certified, a green roof will certainly earn you some credits.
The Baltimore Hilton Convention Center hotel currently boasts the largest green roof in the city, its two towers hosting 32,000 sq ft (more than Ravens Stadium itself) of the eco-friendly option. With help from the local Furbish Company, six different plant species and over 60,000 one-inch plugs comprise the system, sedum being the main plant due to its ability to thrive in shallow soil, and its self-generating, draught-resistant nature.
Baltimore may be catching onto the message. In a study by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the Associated Press reported that Baltimore rounds out the top four spot for cities with the most green roofs installed, along with Minneapolis, Chicago and D.C.
oon, ground will be breaking in Brewers Hill when Obrecht Properties begins the construction of a 162-unit apartment complex at the site of the former Gunther and National Bohemian breweries. The site sits across the street from the Domain Apartments, built in 2009, consisting of 180 units still relatively fresh themselves. As a recent resident of Brewers Hill, I’m definitely excited to see more housing growth and retail opportunities in the neighborhood.
(Gordon & Greenberg Architects)
Tentatively called “Gunther Square” (though the name has since been rejected), the property sits at 1211 South Conkling St. in SE Baltimore. New homes, offices, and shops will replace the outdated brewery building, which Bill Libercci (Vice President of NorthMarq Capital’s Baltimore Regional office who helped facilitate the construction loan) says has been “vacant and deteriorating for 37 years.” He goes on to call the endeavor a “very complicated historic renovation,” but one which “represents the latest phase in the renaissance of Brewers Hill.”
The retail portion of this development, along with the current Broom Factory retail on Boston Street, shows that the demand for neighborhood shopping is growing rapidly. Population continues to grow and consumer confidence seems stable. By 2013 I envision the residents of Brewers Hill no longer needing to travel to other neighborhoods for daily necessities. The areas surrounding Conkling and Boston Streets will become a self-sufficient and pedestrian-friendly community.
For more information regarding Brewer’s Hill news and events, click here.
almart gets smaller, Forever 21 gets much bigger.
I was touring a client through an enclosed mall several months ago when I saw Forever 21’s name scrawled atop a large anchor vacancy once occupied by a “Belk” department store. This step up in size is a calculated move by the popular clothing retailer to step up their sales. They believe that more attractive and larger footprint will boost sales and improve perceptions of their “cheap-chic” image. This will also give the brand opportunity to expand in different product types, such as children’s wear and maternity. Forever 21 has larger concept stores planned for Maryland and California in the coming months. (read the Los Angeles Times article)
Meanwhile, discount juggernaut, Walmart has unveiled some prototypes of a smaller 15,000 SF convenience Walmart that will be a key for the brand’s expansion in both rural and urban areas. (article here) A Walmart or Super Walmart location can occupy as much as 350,000 SF, but this immense footprint causes obvious hurdles for expansion into crowded cities and not-so-dense rural areas. America’s biggest retailer also has introduced a pilot micro Walmart at the University of Arkansas. (read the Huffington Post article) This convenience/pharmacy location will be studied and potentially reproduced all over the country in areas where student populations are receptive to Walmart.
Other retailers will certainly be watching both trends attentively. Most brands of late have seemed to be downsizing- relying more on e-commerce and less on “brick and mortar” stores, which makes Forever 21’s approach more interesting. However, discount brands such as Forever 21 have been growing as consumers in higher income brackets are more interested in value. Walmart’s approach clearly has continued growth in mind. There is a limit to the amount of mega centers the company can keep rolling out, so a more efficient space and demand-savvy location could be just the solution to its continued expansion. It is still not clear whether more space or less space is the answer, and retailers continue to rethink their models amidst a longer than anticipated recession.