Urban Neighborhoods: Research and Policy

By Ralph B. Taylor | Go to book overview

FIVE The Role of the Small Commercial Center in the Urban Neighborhood

Marlys McPherson and Glenn Silloway

The relationship between small commercial centers (SCCs) and characteristics of urban neighborhoods was investigated in a study of 24 SCCs, and their surrounding areas, in Minneapolis- St. Paul. Results provided support for the dependency thesis that characteristics of SCCs are strongly influenced by the nature of their surrounding market area. But support was also obtained for a counter-dependency thesis. Regardless of current neighborhood conditions, or recent changes in the area, business merchants' expectations and optimism regarding the future of an area were stimulated through collective action and organizational participation; behaviors that are likely, ultimately, to result in improved conditions in SCCs. It was also observed that residents' perceptions of conditions in their local SCC were related to their overall attachment to their neighborhood. These results suggest that SCCs can play a role in slowing or reversing decline in an urban neighborhood, and are not always victims of changes in the surrounding residential fabric. Implications for urban revitalization policy were suggested.

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The data reported here were collected as part of a larger study funded by the National Institute of Justice (grant ♯80-IJ-CX-0073). This research, conducted in 1981-83, focused on crime and citizens' reactions to crime in neighborhood commercial centers located within the boundaries of urban central cities. Part of the study, however, involved an exploration of the nature of the relationship between neighborhood residents and their local commercial center. It is this part of the research that is discussed here.

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