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Thread: Small town looking to create a downtown. Any examples?

  1. #26
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    The GlenTown Center... Glenview, Illinois

    Design and award winning.........
    Mixed use project.........http://www.theglentowncenter.com/

  2. #27
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Our situation similar in some ways, however we have an existing small downtown that has its own zoning class. Most of the buildings are not in good shape. There really isn't any historical value to most of the buildings. There really isn't much business base: A hair salon thats leaving, a lawyer, a realtor, the American Legion, and a small catering business.

    I am starting to think the best thing might be for the city to use a TIF Bond for re-development, tear down the buildings and use design standards for a renovated downtown area. I don't think there is much point to saving the buildings.

  3. #28
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    Sorry to come into this a little late, but something that may be worth considering is the experieinces of the Main Street Program. It's associated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation but in the 1980s and 1990s its spirit migrated to places such as Australia and morphed a little. I think the original intention was always economic development plus historic preservation, but the ideas were used by many small Australian towns that were suffering economic decline. There's a webpage at www.mainstreet.org It relied a lot on volunteer activity and local businesses, so it wasn't (isn't?) a planning thing.

  4. #29

    Examples of good downtowns

    Hi all,

    I am the producer/director for the film Sprawling From Grace. Within this documentary film I had the good fortune of interviewing Mark Falcone of Continuum Partners in Denver, CO. He is responsible for the Bel Mar development in Lakewood, CO. This development has done a good job founding a town center in a suburban community that had no core. It has a sense of articulation that mirrors or reflects the way older cities developed over time. He did this by hiring individual architects to design builing segments within the city block, there by avoiding the homogeneity found in many developments. Another key element was using materials of value, such a brick, that conveyed the permanence of the place. I would recommend contacting him, along with TOD expert architect Nicolo Warner Casewit of Environmental Productions. (303) 935-0277. Best wishes. A lot of information on key elements that are necessary to create place can also be found with in the film Sprawling From Grace. . I am alson available for consultation at 303.477.9600.

    Best Regards,
    David M. Edwards

  5. #30

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    Greensburg, Kansas

    Visit www.greensburgks.org and check out Greensburg, Kansas. This community is basically rebuilding from scratch. Look at how they place the park with pedestrian orientation towards the city hall and court house.

    You may want to begin by creating a town square. Most small communities build a park but I always wondered why downtowns don't build around a central parking lot with shops and restaurants ringed around it. A central parking lot could have a nice green buffer around it with park benches under trees, etc. This is a good location for shop owners and employees to park and free-ups street-side parking for shoppers.

    If adequate parking is available then retail will eventually follow. Make sure this parking area is close to other destinations like the city hall, court house, library, or bank. Consider building a fountain, gazebo, or monument to signify the "center" of town. Work with local non-profit groups to develop festivals, concerts, rallys, markets, etc. that can be held at the town square to bring more people to the area and to promote the expansion of retail and restaurants to the area.
    Last edited by RaneyOnline; 23 Dec 2008 at 6:28 AM.

  6. #31
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    Take a look at Erie, Colorado, which is mostly a bedroom community of around 12,000, although it does have a small historic block of one story commercial which forms the center of the downtown, and is vibrant. One of the key points is that the downtown is connected directly to a large public park and recreational trail along Coal Creek where there are annual events put on by the town (music concerts, dog parades etc.).

    The state's Dept of Local Affairs collaborated with the Main Street Program and local retailers to develop a strong design vision for expansion of the downtown and improving storefronts, which in turn helped inform the subsequent Comprehensive Plan update and Unified Development Code by the Town.

    Zoning wise, I think it is mixed-use surrounded by small lot single family detached and attached dwellings.

  7. #32
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    City of Smyrna, GA

    Talk to people at the City of Smyrna, GA. They created a town center/village green called Market Square out of a suburban strip mall corridor that has been a huge economic stmulus for the town. Their website is http://www.ci.smyrna.ga.us..
    Satellite City Enabler

  8. #33
    Cyburbian
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    How much money you got?

    I have to ask, if it doesn't want to be there, what makes you think you can force it? Developers really don't want to do this kind of thing, especially if it involves housing. But towns and cities can make almost anything happen if they're willing to back it up with public financing, land write-downs ... and remove a lot of the risk the developer has to take.

    And if it wants to be there, why isn't it happening? Have you had developers knocking on your door to reguide, rezone or relax zoning regulations? That part's easy. But there are a lot of "town centers" out there dying on the vine. It takes a lot of residents to support a commercial area, and a lot more if their retail needs are met in nearby cities.

    I would say the first step is "Market Study" to identify all the factors affecting your vision to confirm that it's realistic. And talk to the developers of the sort you think would be interested. Just get a feel for their interest. It could be a good source of inside information.
    Blogging: Never have so many with so little to say said so much to so few.

  9. #34
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    I know this is a popular forum, but I worked on a plan to implement FBC's as a way to focus growth to a downtown district in the small town of East Harwich, MA. More info is on the Association to Preserve Cape Cod website: www.apcc.org

  10. #35
    Cyburbian
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    Mill Creek Town Center (City of Mill Creek, WA)

    This town center was developed for the very purpose of giving the small suburban city of Mill Creek an active mixed-use center. I would say that they were successful, based on my many trips to eat, drink, and shop there.

    They succeeded in creating a vibrant center with activity all day and into the night
    due in part to the following:

    -mixed commercial uses (retail, office, restaurants, grocery...)
    -mixed density residential (single family clusters, apartments) adjacent to commercial phase
    -user-friendly critical area preservation (boardwalks around wetlands, trail system)
    -pedestrian friendly layout


    The planning process was a long one (~10 years) with extensive involvement of the public and developers early on. Bill Trimm at the city was integral to the center's success. I'm sure he'd chat with you if you called.

    http://www.tiscareno.net/portfolio/m...own-center.php
    http://www.cityofmillcreek.com/STAND...N%20CENTER.htm
    http://www.heraldnet.com/article/200...WS01/574547947
    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/busine...5_mill28.shtml

  11. #36
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    More small towns

    Biltmore Park in Buncombe Co, NC, in the Asheville area.

    A more organic example: Brevard, NC, in Transylvania County. A great example of converting the through principal arterial highway into a small town street that moves traffic extremely well, until you reach the suburban five-lanes on each end of town.

  12. #37
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    An example of a center of activity that could be a downtown is Belmont Shore, it's part of a neighborhood in Long Beach of 22,000. The people there have toyed with the idea of breaking away from Long beach. In order for a downtown to work, u need to have a bunch of draws, for business, work, fun, and food. If u have no major industries that bring jobs, the 2 sure fire ones are a downtown, and a hospital. You also need a good number of adjacent properties to be zoned with office and retail as permitted uses. Hospitals attract doctors offices to adjacent properties, government offices can attract contractors, architects, lawyers, etc. Also, have a permitting system that allows or encourages sidewalk dining. That way you have places for workers and customers to eat in an adjacent area. Also, in permitted uses, allow places that have on-site alcohol consumption to go around the CUP process, thus enabling more restaurants and bars. This gives the place a vital amount of people from 8am-past9pm.

  13. #38
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Well.....

    Quote Originally posted by Admiral Adama View post
    An example of a center of activity that could be a downtown is Belmont Shore, it's part of a neighborhood in Long Beach of 22,000. The people there have toyed with the idea of breaking away from Long beach. In order for a downtown to work, u need to have a bunch of draws, for business, work, fun, and food. If u have no major industries that bring jobs, the 2 sure fire ones are a downtown, and a hospital. You also need a good number of adjacent properties to be zoned with office and retail as permitted uses. Hospitals attract doctors offices to adjacent properties, government offices can attract contractors, architects, lawyers, etc. Also, have a permitting system that allows or encourages sidewalk dining. That way you have places for workers and customers to eat in an adjacent area. Also, in permitted uses, allow places that have on-site alcohol consumption to go around the CUP process, thus enabling more restaurants and bars. This gives the place a vital amount of people from 8am-past9pm.
    With a handle like Admiral Adama, how can this cat be anything but right? I haven't even read the post response above yet and I'm posting this Frak anyone who disagrees with us!
    Skilled Adoxographer

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally posted by Admiral Adama View post
    An example of a center of activity that could be a downtown is Belmont Shore, it's part of a neighborhood in Long Beach of 22,000. The people there have toyed with the idea of breaking away from Long beach. In order for a downtown to work, u need to have a bunch of draws, for business, work, fun, and food. If u have no major industries that bring jobs, the 2 sure fire ones are a downtown, and a hospital. You also need a good number of adjacent properties to be zoned with office and retail as permitted uses. Hospitals attract doctors offices to adjacent properties, government offices can attract contractors, architects, lawyers, etc. Also, have a permitting system that allows or encourages sidewalk dining. That way you have places for workers and customers to eat in an adjacent area. Also, in permitted uses, allow places that have on-site alcohol consumption to go around the CUP process, thus enabling more restaurants and bars. This gives the place a vital amount of people from 8am-past9pm.

    Sorry, I meant a city hall and a hospital. Also, the whole downtown needs to be linked to the greater area by transit

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