Lansdowne Town Center

Written by  //  May 24, 2012  //  Profiled Projects  //  3 Comments

[Photo Credit: Commercial Scapes]

I was recently asked to identify an ‘urban-retail’ development that could serve as a benchmark for an ongoing planning project in a greenfield context. The benchmark needed to match the following criteria:

  1. Former greenfield site
  2. Located in a medium density neighbourhood
  3. Directly integrated with adjacent communities
  4. Low-midrise building heights
  5. Community-scale (100,000 ft2 – 350,000 ft2 ) with a grocery store anchor
  6. Exhibits excellent placemaking and walkability attributes
  7. Meets the principles of successful retail environments

As discussed in this recent post, the majority of existing lifestyle centres are completely car-dependent islands surrounded by a sea of surface parking. Carefully selected images like the one below of Streets of Southpoint (North Carolina) give the illusion of an urban environment, but a zoomed out aerial view shows it is anything but.


Lansdowne Town Center

[Photo Credit:]

Unlike the typical greenfield outdoor-format development, Lansdowne Town Center in Virginia integrates directly into an adjacent New Urbanism style community. The development is comprised of 150,000 ft2 of retail and 40,000 ft2 of office. The project is anchored by a 52,000 ft2 supermarket (Harris Teeter) and features a main street and a 3,000 ft2 park. Medium density housing surrounds the development, bringing a local customer base within walking distance.


The proximity of Lansdowne Town Center to the high volume Route 7 to the southwest has allowed the project’s designers to push the supermarket anchor to the back of the site. 72,000 passing vehicles have clear visibility to the supermarket every day – excellent marketing for convincing potential customers to enter. Other key success features include:

  • Use of ‘teaser’ on-street parking on main street
  • Surface parking hidden behind commercial buildings
  • Use of interlocking brick to designate pedestrian crossings
  • Increased on-site population through second floor offices and adjacent residential
  • Clusters of prominent restaurants
  • A park feature which bookends the main street rather than interrupting the flow of pedestrians
  • Tight main street dimensions with ‘double loaded’ retail frontages (92’ / 28 m storefront to storefront dimension)
  • A walkable main street 752’ / 230 m in total length, comprised of 3 x 230’ / 70 m blocks with mid-block passageways to rear parking

Although Lansdowne Town Center may not be the most flashy urban-retail project, its appeal lies in its simplicity, practicality, and adherence to basic principles of placemaking and retail development. If you know of other similar developments of a comparable scale and form, please contact me and I will add them to the Profiled Projects on Reurbanist.

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Reurbanist is a multi-disciplinary firm that blends land use economics with urban planning and economic development. At its core, Reurbanist believes that great urban places that are compelling and vibrant must find success at both a fiscal and social level. Stronger cities and urban destinations translate into improved job growth, municipal tax revenue, and a higher quality of life for residents.

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