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Thread: Downtown redevelopment, what works and what doesn't?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    Downtown redevelopment, what works and what doesn't?

    Hopefully the throbbing brain can help me on this, I'm looking for examples of good and not so good downtown redevelopment or even redevelopment plans. I'm hoping to look at others for the inspiration but understand any plan needs to take the specifics of a community into account including political climate. I'm hoping to find some resources and real life examples of mid-sized downtowns that have successfully been revitalized and take a look at ordinances.

    So, what are your favorite downtowns? Least favorite?

    Right now I'm thinking some of the more obvious areas like Madison, Boulder, even a bit of Plano.
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Alexander Garvin's The American City: What Works, What Doesn't is a must read on this topic.

  3. #3
         
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    Look at Fort Collins, Colorado. Even some Boulder residents I know like it better than Boulder. It feels more like a real downtown to them.

    Pueblo, Colorado made a multi-million dollar investment about 8-10 years ago to their downtown in hopes to spur redevelopment. They brought the Arkansas River back into downtown after having it diverted around the area for decades by creating a urban river walk. It is my understanding that economic results have been mixed at best.

    Grand Junction, Colorado is currently expanding their downtown "shopping park". The original design was considered unusual when construction took place in the very early 1960s. They took a traditional western main street and included landscaping, benches, public art, fountains, parking bays, mid-block ped crossings and a chicane street section. The community has maintained the original concept over the decades and now they are adding additional area to it including a traffic circle at one end. This downtown has remained very viable even with a very high suburban/fridge commercial growth rate around the community.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plan 9's avatar
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    I've seen sooooo many cities put a wad of money into streetscape and facade improvements and ignore the real issues of why the downtown is failing. So I would recommend not spending all your money on fancy sidewalks, lights, and brick crosswalks until some economic types figure out the real problems...ie not enough customer base nearby, inconvenient parking, lack of transit services, super wallymart killed off the locals, etc. I do have to admit that the improvements look nice, at least for a little while...
    "Future events such as these will affect you in the future."

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Some basic revolving loan funds to help support the creation of local businesses or expand small businesses will provide a destination that people want to go to. You can make it pretty, but if there is nothing there for people to do, they still will not head downtown.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Definitely start with a market analysis, but this has to go into detail to consider not just the market, but what can work downtown and why it is/isn't already. That said, here are some of the communities I would recommend looking at:

    Appleton, WI (major turn-around story)
    Hays, KS (rural regional center, work in progress)
    Jackson, MS (capitol city dead at night, but also look at the Fondren district)
    Kenosha, WI (blue collar town reinvented on the lakefront)
    Manhattan, KS (successful downtown mall)
    Sioux City, IA (will the downtown mall succeed?)
    Sioux Falls, SD (wonderful historic district and falls park on the edge of downtown)
    Stockton, CA (some magnificent historic buildings rehabbed, but it is still Stockton)
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  7. #7
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Well, the smallish downtown in the suburb I work for is doing gangbusters. Bascially, it started with establishing 2 Tax Increment Financing districts in the early 1980s and making a concerted effort to balance development needs with citizen needs.

    Plus, a municipality must be willing to acquire (purchase) strategic properties to facilitate economies for developments.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions y'all, it's provided a ton of material and a massive starting place to ensure start off on the right foot, or at least thinking in the right direction.
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

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