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Bringing Back Downtown Retail After COVID-19


October 2021 — Across the nation in downtowns large and small, leaders and stakeholders are beginning to ask questions such as: Where will retail be in downtowns like ours as we recover from this very stressful crisis? What are the best opportunities for regaining, and possibly increasing, the strength of our downtown’s retailing? What strategies, projects, and programs can help us achieve those potentials? To address these critical questions, The American Downtown Revitalization Review (The ADRR) partnering with the University of Wisconsin Madison – hosted an online panel discussion with three nationally known experts with many years of retail development experience. Watch Michael J. Berne, President, MJB Consulting, Kristen Fish-Peterson, Partner, Redevelopment Resources, and N. David Milder, President, DANTH, Inc., and Founding Editor of The ADRR, discuss bringing back downtown retail after COVID-19.

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Additional Materials

Bringing Back Downtown Retail After COVID-19, PowerPoint

Our Panelists

Michael J. Berne, President, MJB Consulting

Michael is one of North America’s leading experts and futurists on urban and Downtown/Main Street districts as well as the retail industry more generally. As the Founder and President of New York City and San Francisco Bay Area-based MJB Consulting, Michael has amassed more than twenty years of experience in conducting retail market analyses, devising tenanting strategies, and spearheading implementation efforts across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Michael is a regular presenter and keynote speaker at industry conferences, including those of the International Downtown Association (IDA), the National Main Street Center, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the American Planning Association (APA) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI), among others. In addition to his widely followed “Retail Contrarian” blog, Michael has penned numerous articles for ULI’s monthly magazine, Urban Land, and has authored a chapter for a recently-published book on the urbanization of the suburbs (“Suburban Remix: Creating the Next Generation of Urban Places”, Island Press, 2018).

Kristen Fish-Peterson, Partner, Redevelopment Resources

Kristen Fish-Peterson has 20 years of direct experience leading the business development efforts of a municipality and working in both media and manufacturing sectors. In 2009 she and two colleagues started Redevelopment Resources, a community impact consulting firm that operates nationwide. She has managed all aspects of business development and adaptive reuse programs including business recruitment, retention, entrepreneurial programming, loan fund management, deal structuring, blight elimination, and policy/program development. She managed development in a 400+ acre industrial park and written/managed multiple Tax Increment Financing Districts from creation to fulfillment. Her work through Redevelopment Resources focuses on bringing results to businesses and communities through proactive commercial real estate development and redevelopment, market analysis, creative financing, tax incremental financing district creation and implementation, organizational structure consulting, and business recruitment/retention.  Developing creative solutions to community challenges is one of Ms. Fish-Peterson’s favorite things to take on.  Equipping communities with the tools to solve their economic challenges drives the work of the firm.

N. David Milder, President, DANTH, Inc., and Founding Editor of The ADRR

David has completed leading-edge work on downtown central social districts, arts districts, multichannel retailing as well as numerous retail assessments and downtown revitalization strategies for clients such as: Meredith, NH; Maplewood, NJ; West New York, NJ;  the City of Gering, NE; the Village of Sherwood, WI;  the Morristown Partnership (NJ); the Long Island City Partnership (NY); the Grand Central Partnership and 34th Street  Partnership in Manhattan; Jamaica Center, NY, and the City of Peoria, AZ. David also has been involved in stimulating Transit-Oriented Development projects in Cranford, NJ, and Bayonne, NJ.  Since 1990, when many experts felt downtowns could no longer be successful retail locations, David has formulated numerous niche-based retail revitalization strategies that have stimulated growth in communities across the nation, including Rutland, VT, and Englewood, NJ. He is the author of three books and numerous articles related to downtown revitalization. In 2020 he helped found the American Downtown Revitalization Review (The ADRR) and serves as its editor.


Bill Ryan is a Community Business Development Specialist who works with local economic development professionals, municipal planners, and interested residents wanting to improve their downtown and commercial districts. Awarded the title of Distinguished Lecturer, he has developed innovative and practical tools to improve the mix of businesses and the use of space. The goal of his work is to improve local quality of life through increased economic activity in these commercial districts. As a statewide specialist, Bill provides practical, locally-based research and educational programs to inform community planning and investment. He has led the development of the nationally utilized Downtown and Business District Market Analysis Toolbox. This and other research and educational programs have been presented nationally, and continue to be the dominant source of commercial district, community-led market research techniques. In 2005, Bill was awarded the Wisconsin Idea Fellow in recognition for public service on behalf of the UW. Bill’s initial years after college were in hotel development. He has worked for Holiday Inns Corporation, Laventhol & Horwath-Boston, and the Boston-based Flatley Company. He transitioned to Extension, working as a tourism specialist, and then a business district economic development specialist. He is a graduate of Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration, and the UW-Madison MBA program.

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