Just as I’m about to brilliantly blog my “new” idea of “micro retail”, prompted by the mourning over violent neighborhood change such as 500 Pine, someone has gone ahead and actually proposed it in a real project. So much for looking clever.

Here’s the idea posed as a question: Is there a way for a new development to replace the diverse and funky small-ass retail it typically demolishes with more of the same? This, instead of “corporate”, vanilla, hugeass tenants who can afford expensive new-construction rents. Diversity is at least part of the appeal of the existing fabric, no?

Well, less than ten blocks from 500 Pine at the old QFC site at 500 Broadway, Driscoll Architects is apparently giving it a shot, although I’m not sure if they invented any new jargon. According to an account of the September DRB meeting, they’re just planning for smaller retail spaces:

“One aspect pretty much universally praised was the developer’s intent to create a better chance that smaller, local businesses would be able to occupy the Broadway store fronts.
“We are trying to create vibrant retail spaces, ones that are unique and not uniform,” said architect Matt Driscoll during his presentation. He said that mixed-use projects are typically heavily weighted toward residential units. This project, he said, takes the street-level retail aspect very seriously, not as an afterthought.
To that end, 12 store fronts are planned. They are small and narrow, and at between 18 and 26 feet of width are not of uniform size. The larger among them could be home to restaurants. Smaller spaces are in the 600 square-foot range.
“We’d like 12, locally owned business, and we want to create the opportunity for that to happen,” Driscoll said.
“The success of this project will come from rigorous tenant selection, with small store fronts and variety,” said one woman who praised the approach.”

Now, admittedly, the thing is huge(ass). And I hope it won’t look quite like this, but I know better. Still, 500 Pine is losing six, seven businesses? Maybe gaining four or five new, bigger tenants? But 500 Broadway will bring up to maybe twelve where once there was QFC, Bartell’s, and a parking lot. Does the ‘hood win? Maybe even a little?

We’ll see.