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Thread: Downtown revitalization

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Downtown revitalization

    I am currently living in Winnipeg Mb, taking undergrad courses in Planning in attempts to help me gain acceptance into the Master of City Planning program here in Winnipeg. I have been doing a lot of thinking about what to "present" as a possibly research stream/idea in my letter of intent, and have decided on downtown revitalization. I have some specific things I find interesting about the subject, but wanted to see what you all had to say..

    Downtown Revitalization...Discuss...

  2. #2
    Downtown revitalization is a very broad subject for research. First of all, what is a downtown? Is it a concentration of retail businesses? A transportation nexus? Where the tall buildings are? The geographic center of the town?

    Is downtown revitalization really different from revitalization of any urban area?

    If you have a specific plan for downtown revitalization in mind, perhaps you should make that the topic of your research.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I love downtown organization as well. There are many parts I find interesting. Design is certainly one. The other, which really is related, is the question of what businesses will be successful in a downtown. There is a great challenge in looking at a building or site and trying to figure out what may go there.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Cyburbian Boru's avatar
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    Heres a question for ye. Does the designation of areas of downtown or city centre as tax free development zones create an unbalanced market.

    For example in an attempt to kick-start development in a city, a Local Authority (LA) may designate large swates of land for redevelopment purposes, allowing investors in the development, along with those who purchase the properties to write of tax against the amount paid for the property. This is a very successful method of developing land in run-down city centre areas. But does this draw much needed investor funds away from other sections of the city? It depends on the size and popularity of the city. It can have an upward knock on effect on adjacent land.

    The other question to be asked, which specifically relates to towns and cities which are desperate for downtown revival is that of accepting any development as being better than no development. This may begin a revival of downtown, eventually leading to a vibrant city centre, but after 10-15 years the city is left with new-age slums in the places where the very first developments were built.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Just get Eaton's to open a store in your downtown. Look what it did for Tornoto!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    Just get Eaton's to open a store in your downtown. Look what it did for Tornoto!
    Already have a "Hudson's Bay Company" it does quite well with attracting people...

  7. #7
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by grampafunk
    Already have a "Hudson's Bay Company" it does quite well with attracting people...

    You still have a downtown dept store, and you;re wondering how to revialize your CBD? Winni is doing better than 95 percent of the downtowns in N america!

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    Just get Eaton's to open a store in your downtown. Look what it did for Tornoto!
    Alas, getting an new Eaton's anywhere in Canada would be like getting a new Hudson's in the Detroit metro, if you get my drift.

    Is there a sizeable residential community in downtown Winnipeg? Many American cities are waking up to the fact that to have a vibrant downtown, it just can't be a workplace; you have to have a full-time population. Toronto has always had residential neighborhoods adjacent to downtown, which IMHO has helped to keep it active through the years.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Alas, getting an new Eaton's anywhere in Canada would be like getting a new Hudson's in the Detroit metro, if you get my drift.
    Yes I know, that was on purpose. I was wondering when someone was going to call me a stupid american. Dammed shame the canadians are too polite to say such things.

  10. #10
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Downtown revitalization is a very broad subject for research. First of all, what is a downtown? Is it a concentration of retail businesses? A transportation nexus? Where the tall buildings are? The geographic center of the town?.
    A traditional downtown has the widest mix of uses in an understandable spatial layout. It was traditionally the retail, office, government, residential, lodging, transportation, manufacturing, restaurant, entertainment, communication center of the city. Most of the vital downtowns still retain a good mix.

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    It seems that today in America entertainment is needed the most when the office day ends. Of course, it would be great to have residents, but many american downtowns do not bost a high residential population, but this is on the change almost every where it seems these days.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    There has been a lot of discussion on attracting business to the downtown. Is there some sort of systematic order to what businesses should go in at what time? I would be shocked if everyone was willing to locate downtown without some already established pedestrian traffic.

    I know that some places have created large festival sites and have regular events in the downtown to get people to come down, then business will come in to keep them coming downtown.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  13. #13
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    Just get Eaton's to open a store in your downtown. Look what it did for Tornoto!

    and it is now a sears.

    At least there is a HBC where the simpsons used to be.

    As for the question, maybe take a look at casino development in downtowns, you've got one, windsor has one (planning school used to be there and people were doing before and after analysis), Niagara Fall, Halifax, Sarnia and other palces in Canada as well, plus you could look at teh US experiences.

    Other topics to look at would be grant programs for heritage conservation and the role it plays in promoting downtowns, public transit / transportation planning, and maybe even the role of urban design in reinforcing promoting a downtown worth visiting.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  14. #14
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    As for the question, maybe take a look at casino development in downtowns, you've got one, windsor has one (planning school used to be there and people were doing before and after analysis), Niagara Fall, Halifax, Sarnia and other palces in Canada as well, plus you could look at teh US experiences.

    Ahh Casinos the panacea. Detroit opened three to combat Windsor's two.

    Did the casinos result in more pedestrian traffic? No, everyone valets or parks in adjoining giagantic garages.

    Has there been any spin-offs? Mixed. In Greektown the Casino was built in cooperation with the local merchants supplying restraunts. At the MGM Grand, the building sits on its own; and at the Motor City, Carls chophouse across the street has actually seen a decline in business as people are tending to use the casino shuttles to get to sporting events, plays, the Opera, the Symphony.

    Has crime increased? No.

    Have pawn shops opened up? No, but the existing ones are a lot more fancier.

    And finally since these are coporate owned or owned by a tribe, the profits from the casinos pour into either Las Vegas to help fund their projects or the UP. (Can I get an Amen thank you Detroit from 'skis?)

  15. #15
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    And finally since these are coporate owned or owned by a tribe, the profits from the casinos pour into either Las Vegas to help fund their projects or the UP. (Can I get an Amen thank you Detroit from 'skis?)
    Not quite an Amen… Mixed feelings at best. There is a big casino about 15 miles west of my hometown, and realistically, the town has had no financial gain from it other than the gas stations in the area. People will drive to the casino, stay at the casino, gamble at the casino, eat at the casino, and shop at the casino. I think that they even have a gas station so they even get that market.

    The sad thing is it has not improved the quality of life for the vast majority of the Native American Tribes up there. Many of them have jobs that pay them a lot more, but their spending stays on the reservation and in the tribe. Unfortunately, the percentage of alcohol and drug related crimes in the area have increased substantially, with the vast majority committed by Native Americans.

    A few have taken their money and have had a positive impact on the community, but they are far and few between.

    From what I have been told from several friends who went to Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie , have staid that the problems there are so bad that many if not most of the residents in the city would like to see the casino close.

    Needless to say, I think that most casinos can do more harm than good.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Boru
    Heres a question for ye. Does the designation of areas of downtown or city centre as tax free development zones create an unbalanced market.
    Of course it does, just like the government building a new highway interchange, which will be populated by big boxes, hotels and convenience stores in a matter of days. There is no such thing as a "free market" system simply because humans need governance and governance needs goods and services.

    Quote Originally posted by streetcreed
    Of course, it would be great to have residents, but many american downtowns do not bost a high residential population, but this is on the change almost every where it seems these days.
    In small towns "dowtown" residential development in the form of "loft apartments" is as much a function of culture as it is economics. Building codes and fire codes have a role to play in squashing loft apartment development, but I think the green acres culture has made it very difficult to attract people to living in small or mid-size downtowns, even when it makes economic sense. There's a lot of wasted space out there.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  17. #17
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Unfortunately, the percentage of alcohol and drug related crimes in the area have increased substantially, with the vast majority committed by Native Americans.

    Needless to say, I think that most casinos can do more harm than good.
    I tend to agree, no economic spin-offs as far as I can tell here. Sure there are some good-paying jobs, but there are also a lot of crappy-paying jobs in casinos too. I never thought about a connection between gambling money and drug dealing in that manner. I alsoway assumed that it was less money for the drug-dealer and more money for the black-jack dealer. But my assumption is probably parocial.

    So besides a few housing developments, the giant casino in the Soo has had few spin-offs? I would think that folks going to the casino would at least go to the ValleyCamp Muesum, see the locks, check out tourist row. Detroit has very little of this (outside of Greektown) for a city of its size.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    So besides a few housing developments, the giant casino in the Soo has had few spin-offs? I would think that folks going to the casino would at least go to the ValleyCamp Muesum, see the locks, check out tourist row. Detroit has very little of this (outside of Greektown) for a city of its size.
    That is what the city thought too. But the sad thing is they go to the casino, do their thing, and go home.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally posted by grampafunk
    I am currently living in Winnipeg Mb, taking undergrad courses in Planning in attempts to help me gain acceptance into the Master of City Planning program here in Winnipeg. I have been doing a lot of thinking about what to "present" as a possibly research stream/idea in my letter of intent, and have decided on downtown revitalization. I have some specific things I find interesting about the subject, but wanted to see what you all had to say..

    Downtown Revitalization...Discuss...
    Have you had taken in consideration maybe new Conference center,combined with a hotel ,retail, and condos.
    Inreview this kind of idea and you will see what the community needs or projects for in the near future .

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    There has been a lot of discussion on attracting business to the downtown. Is there some sort of systematic order to what businesses should go in at what time? I would be shocked if everyone was willing to locate downtown without some already established pedestrian traffic.
    There is a non-residential component that is not directly concerned with pedestrian numbers: offices. By and large, professional services do not rely on foot traffic to make money. Of course, downtowns are more attractive to office users if the downtown is vibrant with decent restaurants and such, but it doesn't directly affect their bottom line.
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