The changing retail structure and vacancy in city centers: A learning trajectory for (future) shrinking cities

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This study investigates the coping mechanism of city centers with regard to the changing retail structure and the resultant vacancies in retail buildings, with particular attention to shrinking regions. The focus is on (future) shrinking regions because Dutch studies of governmental institutions and consultant agencies have demonstrated that the changing retail structure has the most impact in these regions with a higher number of vacancies. For this reason, this study provides a learning trajectory for (future) shrinking cities on how to cope with the changing retail structure and vacancy. The investigation is conducted with the qualitative research method of in-depth interviews and it includes a comparative case study design with Heerlen as the shrinking city case and Helmond as the growing city case. The challenges and policies of these cities are compared in order to provide the learning trajectory for (future) shrinking cities. The cities particularly deal with the same challenges and similar recommendations are provided to other cities, but the policies are different. Moreover, accepting shrinkage and not accentuating shrinkage in policies is what other (future) shrinking cities can learn from this study.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen