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Economic development Mid-size downtown anchor

Doberman

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What makes a good downtown anchor for a medium size town and downtown in a higher socioeconomic and suburban area? Currently, the most trafficked a
 
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luckless pedestrian

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In this pandemic age, not sure but generally, it is awesome when the largest or larger employment centers are located in the downtown because then supporting, competing, complementary and aligning businesses follow

like if it's a large regional bank, there will be breakfast and lunch spots, stores, other banks, residential that will want to be there
 

mendelman

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In this pandemic age, not sure but generally, it is awesome when the largest or larger employment centers are located in the downtown because then supporting, competing, complementary and aligning businesses follow

like if it's a large regional bank, there will be breakfast and lunch spots, stores, other banks, residential that will want to be there
lp's is the best reliable scenario in my experience and also with alot of residential.

I work for a small city that is the county seat on the edge of a sizable Metro. We have a sizable active main street style downtown and have hundreds of daytime workers in the downtown between the City, County and affiliated businesses (ie law offices and title companies).

Those diverse sources of daytime workers definitely are the base market and livelihood for many of our downtown restaurant/retail businesses/market.

We've even had a couple 'politically based threats' of moving a big chunk of these workers outside the downtown's pedestrian shed and the community countered them with rational arguments and even direct infrastructure investment (ie public parking garages, etc).

Make sure that you target a source that is categorical, but diverse in origin - don't get one big employer that if they left would decimate your market.

Or if the WFH trend stays or intensifies for office work, load up on 'alot' of residential.
 
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luckless pedestrian

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definitely make sure public buildings are downtown as anchors, too - city hall, library, courthouses, post office - don't give into the trend of moving them out where there's more parking - just stoppit

I love it when schools, private, public, ballet/karate, all of it are located downtown as anchors too - anything that makes people come "into town"
 

Gedunker

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On a different track, our downtown really came back when we added a large YMCA/public natatorium. That land use brings people downtown at all hours of the day and well into evening.
 

mendelman

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What about a Business Incubator?
I've not had direct experience with ones yet, but my theoretical experience has been that people talk about them all the time, but when the actual numbers are run, nothing happens. It seems that such operations require alot of capable investment and hand holding without a reasonable survivor rate.
 

WSU MUP Student

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definitely make sure public buildings are downtown as anchors, too - city hall, library, courthouses, post office - don't give into the trend of moving them out where there's more parking - just stoppit
This.

Stable, well-paying government jobs, at offices with set hours are a great thing for downtowns. The county I work for moved all of their operations from the downtown of the county seat city to the very edge of the city many years ago and you can see in the economic data for that community exactly when that happened. We have a new administration for the first time in 20+ years and there is an actual effort to move some of the health and community and home improvement offices back into the downtown. If the current county executive wins reelection in the fall, I wouldn't be surprised if they expand that effort and move some of the other departments like Veterans Services, Workforce Development, and Economic Development into the downtown as well..

FWIW, this is a community of 60,000 in a county of 1.2 million and a region of 3+ million so there are many other external factors in what affects that downtown, but this is one that the local governments have some direct control over.

What about a Business Incubator?
We have a few business incubators here in the metro area and they all have shown various levels of success as drivers of economic development. They are all associated with universities but the most successful of the three is the one that is part of the largest of the three universities. The university owns the property and it's a relatively large building in a heavily trafficked area. Beyond the small spaces for upstarts and coworking, there are a couple of "anchor tenants" and some bar/restaurant/coffee shop type places and they've done really good at making sure the tenants in the incubator spaces are working in related industries. I think this has been good at helping collaboration.

The worst of the three incubators is isolated by itself on the campus of a suburban, largely commuter school. They've had pretty spotty management and there never seems to be any sort of consistent direction in what they're doing.


Instead of a business incubator, how about coworking spaces? Our economic development office gets requests from people looking for coworking spaces quite frequently and I'm always amazed at how few we actually have considering how much demand there seems to be. If more people are going to be working from home for the foreseeable future, I could see the demand for coworking spaces or rentable meeting/conference facilities growing going into the future and the med-sized cities or the downtowns in mid-size metros are prime candidates
 

luckless pedestrian

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I like co-working and incubators downtown because if they "grow up" and get more employees, etc. then hopefully they will like being downtown so much that they will seek downtown office spaces

this is all in a pre-pandemic world though so who knows now
 
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