Impacts of big box development on minority and low-income communities : big box location and spatial equity in Austin
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Despite its close proximity to downtown, East Austin is one of the underprivileged and under-developed areas in the City of Austin. Ethnic minorities and low-income persons in inner-city areas often lack access to big box retail due to these stores being disproportionately located outside of their neighborhoods. The aim of this study is to identify the current accessibility of big box retail for East Austin’s residents in order to confirm the potential impacts of big box retail growth on minority and lowincome populations. Using GIS-based network analysis, it is possible to measure whether the residents in East Austin have equal access to big box retail stores, as compare to other Austin areas. Although residents in East Austin have greater accessibility to other neighborhood-type retail like drug stores, small-format value stores, and supermarkets, they must travel farther to access community-type retail like home improvement stores,department stores, large-format value stores. Moreover, these populations have access to fewer cars, and must rely on public transit. Socio-economic characteristics of East Austin include a high percentage of individuals living below the poverty line, high disability rates, low to no vehicle ownership, and high percentages of female headed households. Finally, the study proposes new mixed-use, mixed-income development models as a way to improve retail access to minority and low-income population.