Yeah, definitely -- I've heard from a number of both developers and retailers that they have a helluva time renting out the lower- and upper-level retail spaces, hence the trend away from it.
I think the real rubicon could be what First Capital winds up proposing for the 101 Yorkville assembly -- it occupies such a big and prominent part of the block that it could really change the fabric of the centre of the neighbourhood.
I can attest to this. I can't imagine a developer willingly building lower level retail space but I wouldn't want them to anyway. It's more fitting of an old house. I'd prefer that they just didn't touch the existing stock too much.
Fair enough. But I think this is a case where it is better in theory and appearance, than it actually is in reality. In addition to the practical commercial issues mentioned above, people with mobility issues care more about getting in the door of the store than in unified design language. Those little basement shops lose a lot of their charm when one can't access them.
As I have said before in these threads, there are two groups of people in the world: those with mobility issues, and those who don't have mobility issues yet. Design needs to address the needs of people.