Restructuring the Commercial Strip: A Practical Guide for Planning the Revitalization of Deteriorating Strip Corridors


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a number of programs and resources through its smart growth planning website ( One such website resource is a smart growth planning guide for restructuring commercial strips. Community planners and local government leaders can use the information to examine case studies and to download associated content that will aid in the planning of collective community areas.

Key Points

The paper was commissioned by the EPA but was conducted by ICF International, Freedman Tung and Sasaki to help planners find ways to reinvigorate existing, but deteriorating commercial strip corridors. Revitalizing commercial strips requires a combination of efforts, including rezoning, transportation (right-of-way and multi-modal), and leadership by local government.

Other report highlights:

  1. The guide highlights five case studies that are EPA Smart Growth projects involving “corridor redesign or revitalization.”
  2. The guide examines five studies that were supported through the EPA Smart Growth Planning Assistance program, and the concluding results of each.
  3. Action steps for revitalization include: identifying the most favorable locations for contemporary (clustered) retail investment, a potential hierarchy of retail venues, planning corridor retail as part of a supportable local and regional framework, and creating “real centers.”

How to Use

Many resources of smart growth planning focus on residential areas; however, planning encompasses all areas in any given city, including shopping and strip malls. Rather than tearing these areas down, they can be revitalized and leveraged to contribute to the community, increasing economic prosperity and community safety, and strengthening infrastructure. Community planners and local leaders can use this guide (both the website and the white paper) as a resource for finding initiatives that have worked elsewhere and be altered for implementation in their locality.

View full report: Restructuring the Commercial Strip: A Practical Guide for Planning the Revitalization of Deteriorating Strip Corridors (PDF – 1.9 MB)

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