The bad news is that most cities these days would refuse to allow house conversions into retail. Which is too bad. Would like to see convenience stores or kiosks next to bus stops. Too bad. They'll force them to have parking.
Yes, totally agree, I fail to see why many of our smaller streets can't function like Newbury st, Boston. So much more interesting than a mall. As to side walk, widening it can't be too hard or difficult. Instead, we have all the pure residential streets, and there is no where to shop beside Queen , part of Bloor and the Eaton Centre. Jarvis is another street I can see converting into large amount of retail.