What are you doing about your downtown? (check as many as apply)

What is your city doing about its downtown?

  • We don't have a downtown.

    Votes: 7 16.7%
  • We are doing nothing, because downtown is in fine shape.

    Votes: 1 2.4%
  • We are doing nothing, but downtown could use help.

    Votes: 3 7.1%
  • We have made the usual cosmetic improvements, such as a streetscape.

    Votes: 23 54.8%
  • We are promoting historic preservation.

    Votes: 23 54.8%
  • We are promoting redevelopment.

    Votes: 24 57.1%
  • We have a number of business assistance programs for downtown businesses.

    Votes: 15 35.7%
  • We are actively recruiting new business to the downtown.

    Votes: 15 35.7%
  • Our downtown is primarily offices.

    Votes: 13 31.0%
  • Our downtown is primarily traditional retail.

    Votes: 3 7.1%
  • Our downtown is primarily specialty retail.

    Votes: 6 14.3%
  • We are trying to increase housing in the downtown.

    Votes: 25 59.5%
  • We are adding parks, trails, outdoor markets, or other attractions in the downtown.

    Votes: 16 38.1%
  • Other, explained below.

    Votes: 7 16.7%

  • Total voters
    42
Messages
10,072
Likes
2
Points
33
#1
So many downtowns seem to be languishing as other parts of the city grow. As planners and economic developers, we are sometimes called upon to find the solutions. How is your city addressing the issue? Check all that apply.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Likes
0
Points
29
#3
Our problem is that we have two competing downtowns from the previous towns that form our City, each with very different needs, strength and weaknesses.

One area has an active BIA group that we did a strategic/organization/land use plan for and is getting things done. (Slowly, but surely, they have been working on revitalization for almost 25 years).

http://www.historicwaterstreet.com


The other we did a draft plan for and never heard back from. They then complain that they can't get any work done and that the City won't invest in their area.

http://www.downtownmiramichi.com
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,387
Likes
0
Points
25
#4
As a county planning office in rural NY state, we provide assistance on request to our muncipalities on downtown revitalization issues.

We have one very small city (+7,400 pop.), 5 villages and 21 towns. I just started working recently with one of our villages on developing a downtown revitalization strategy, and plan on attending the upcoming National Town Meeting on Main Street conference in Cincinatti, OH.
 
Messages
2,550
Likes
0
Points
24
#5
We don't have a downtown, but the City is taking steps to create one. We have narrowed some streets and done extensive streetscaping to make the area more appealing and walkable. The next step is a huge redevelopment of our mall, which will include a mix of retail, office, and residential. Many of the stores will have street entrances and mall entrances. The City is trying to create a "downtown" feel. Even though it is kind of artificial, it will be better than what we have now, which is nothing.

Here are some very preliminary sketches (new ones are coming out soon).



 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Likes
0
Points
33
#6
jtfortin said:
Here are some very preliminary sketches (new ones are coming out soon).
As a former north sider, I have been following that project closely. I like it, except for the ice rink. Ihn the words of my 16 year old niece, "Its stoooopid".
 
Messages
103
Likes
0
Points
6
#7
Portland's downtown has long been a regional crown jewel for a lot of reasons, particularly growth management policies containing suburbanization. Arguably that is still the case in the current recession, but the politics of economic development in a downturn being what they are we have seen a lot of proposals floated to "perk up" downtown.

These have included failed proposals that would have added a downtown link to two linear parks to the immediate north and south of downtown and that would have added parking to the bus-only transit mall. City council did pass a sit-lie ordinance targeting aggressive panhandling.

Most recently a proposal has been floated to add a seasonal ice-rink to Pioneer Courthouse Square. That would alter a very unique space where the regional light rail lines meet. Pioneer Square includes a visitor's center and some small retail uses, but the area dubbed Portland's "living room" is primarily dedicated to a large brick open space. (Visit http://www.pdxplan.org/ for a good and quick elaboration of how that space came into being.)

The source for several of these proposals has been a new business organization that formed out of the merger of the chamber of commerce and a business improvement district. I'm curious as to whether in the current economy other folks are seeing a change in the sources or level of advocacy to "do something" downtown?
 

IPlan?

Cyburbian
Messages
60
Likes
0
Points
4
#8
Going for approval tomorrow night to proceed with a study! We are not in bad shape, just need to take a look at things and make some adjustments. Should be a fun process.
 
Messages
10,072
Likes
2
Points
33
#9
I've been advocating for doing something about our downtown for several years. Until recently, my board wanted nothing to do with it, ironically, at the same time I was president of the state downtown organization. Now that its economic vitality has severely eroded, there is a group of downtown business people that have been advocating for something to be done. Fortunately, I got a couple new board members who are sympathetic, and the others have either come on line or shut up.
 
Messages
1,829
Likes
0
Points
23
#10
I live in Kalamazoo, Michigan (pop 80,000) and our downtown has seen significant growth and rebirth in the last 5-10 years.

The growth and rebirth has occured in many ways. Residential (loft type) housing is in significant demand and rents are $900 and up. New condos and lofts are entering the market and being occupied as fast as they can be built. For many years downtowns was mostly offices but now there is an increasing nightlife. They have created districts which at first seemed kinda useless but they are catching on. There is an art district, entertainment, antique etc. The city is using these to attract new businesses and it is working.

There are grants and incentives for property owners for facade improvement and expansion. All kinds of stuff going on.

Being a lifelong resident of Kalamazoo and a planner this rebirth is very exciting. The link below will take you to the Downtown Kalamazoo Incorporated (DKI) website. Check it out pretty interesting.

http://www.central-city.net/
 
Messages
3
Likes
0
Points
0
#11
San Diego - Gaslamp Quarter

I have a real facination with what cities are trying to do to revitalize their downtown areas. In my opinion, a real success story is San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. ... Very well done. Lots of hotels. Great restaurants... Good place to park and walk. Good night life. Too bad Phoenix's downtown hasn't quite happened yet. But it's showing signs of life.
 

Planderella

     
Messages
5,354
Likes
0
Points
31
#12
I've mentioned it in other posts, but the return of the streetcars to Canal Street in New Orleans will definitely serve as a catalyst in the continuing redevelopment of the downtown area.
 
Messages
18,914
Likes
9
Points
39
#13
JoshD said:
I live in Kalamazoo, Michigan (pop 80,000) and our downtown has seen significant growth and rebirth in the last 5-10 years.

The growth and rebirth has occured in many ways. Residential (loft type) housing is in significant demand and rents are $900 and up.... "



Great web site. I am in a city of the same size, and we are having all sorts of problems. I have been to K-Zoo a few times because my sister lives there now, but I was wondering how much of an infulence has the university been to the development of your down town, and do you have a regional plan where other municipalities work with you? Also if the univeristy is an influence, how do you get them involved.
 
Messages
1,371
Likes
0
Points
28
#14
Based on my travels, I would have to say that, while it sometimes seems doctrinaire, the National Main Street Center's program/approach works, and it seems to work best in places that begin by focusing on economic restructuring.
 
Messages
3,066
Likes
0
Points
30
#15
I had a downtown citizens' committee that met weekly for about two years. Their agenda was: get a civic center downtown (sales tax already approved by the voters), a business improvements district, and a CDBG grant to make amenities improvements. Admirable objectives.

The vocal populus did not want the civic center downtown, and rather than the committee winning a sales pitch, at the next election the governing body was completey turned out to pasture for thinking such a thing. Four years since the bonds were approved, nothing.

I kept repeating that our staff would work on the business improvement district, IF the committee could come up with a certain percentage of property owners in agreement (not necessarily the 51% to get it done, but 30 or so percent to indicate general interest). That never got off the ground.

A professional grants writer was on the committee. He kept telling everyone that millions of CDBG $ were available for downtown redevelopment. I kept repeating that HUD looks for job creation, benefit to low-mod incomes, and elimination of blight. He poo-pooed me for months--until he went to the Lt. Governor and found out for himself.

At my insistence, the City Manager wrote a memo to the committee that they should explore Main Street. There were no meetings after that. "We tried that in the early 80s".

But I have not given up...just need to find a new committee.
 
Messages
10,072
Likes
2
Points
33
#16
mike gurnee said:
A professional grants writer was on the committee. He kept telling everyone that millions of CDBG $ were available for downtown redevelopment. I kept repeating that HUD looks for job creation, benefit to low-mod incomes, and elimination of blight. He poo-pooed me for months--until he went to the Lt. Governor and found out for himself.
I can relate. I once had a woman - not a grants writer, but someone with an idea to build a medical/health center (and no experience in the field or even as a developer) - repeatedly get irate with me because there were all of these economic development grants she could get and I just didn't like her project or didn't want to do the work! I kept trying to explain that 1) grants almost don't exist, and the ones there are go to cities for public improvements; 2) while there was a significant public infrastructure cost, her project would not support a grant because as a developer she was not directly creating the jobs and she did not even have tenants who we might make a case for job creation with; 3) she did not get free government money just because she was a woman; 4) the project would not generate enough tax increment to justify the city subsidizing the costs of extending infrastructure, much else her construction costs, and 5) she did not qualify for any of our low-interest loan programs. It went the same way - she eventually talked to somebody from the state who told her to forget it.
 
Messages
1,371
Likes
0
Points
28
#17
One thing I have noted about the downtowns of some small cities where there are jobs is that they are currently being revitalized by (or at least becoming home to) immigrants: Laotion, Mexican, etc. So I thought I'd ask. Is that part of the reluctance to invest in downtown in Dodge City? or in other downtowns?
 
Messages
3,066
Likes
0
Points
30
#18
Lee,
Yes, but the market dynamics should be studied. Downtown was going down the tubes, rents went down, then immigrants opened shop. I was working up a proposal to develop a "Little Mexico" type area near downtown...now I may make it part of the existing downtown. My next revitalization committee will have some accents.
 
Messages
1,829
Likes
0
Points
23
#19
michaelskis said:
Great web site. I am in a city of the same size, and we are having all sorts of problems. I have been to K-Zoo a few times because my sister lives there now, but I was wondering how much of an infulence has the university been to the development of your down town, and do you have a regional plan where other municipalities work with you? Also if the univeristy is an influence, how do you get them involved. [/B]
Michaelskis,

Not until the last year or two did the university (WMU) get involved in the downtown, and that involvement is minimal, although there is a lot of talk. We'll see what happens. At the present time the relationship between WMU and downtown is to develop a strategy to get the students to shop, eat and drink downtown. And right now all they are doing from what I hear and see is drinking and eating. Hey they in college what can you expect..

Perhaps the biggest commitment made by WMU right now is a new resturant/bar called "The Union." The Union is a bar has some sort of agreement with the owner or WMU is part owner, I don't really know, but the bulk (80%) of the entertainment comes from the university. As a result they have some good jazz, blues and other more mellow bands an it is all free.

As far as being involved with other municipalities. NOPE, not a whole lot in terms of their involvement with the downtown.

K-zoo is a good medium size town I enjoy it here.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,472
Likes
0
Points
22
#20
Our downtown, over 100,000 residents and growing, is strong.

I think the Center City (bid) District has had a lot to do with that.
http://www.centercityphila.org/

the South Street/Headhouse Square (spec. serv) District
http://www.south-street.com

and across the river in West Philly the
University City District which is more or less dominated by Penn and Drexel. It's actually pretty amazing because Penn opened up the first Ivy League elementary school just off campus and the houses in the sending district are fetching 50% more than houses just outside of the district.
http://www.universitycitydistrict.org

The disappointing aspect is mostly how the city keeps sacrificing historic properties in the name of more parking. South St. doesn't have the best transit access so it's semi-understandable. The goal of the city seems to be to avoid public investments in transit by forcing people to make private investments now at the expense of their mobility later.

All new homes have to be built with "off-street" parking so we're seeing entire blocks of garage doors sprouting up even though many homeowners don't use them. A look through the Sunday classifieds will find these spaces being leased out to the tune of $1500 a year (depending on location)

University City now has, by far, the worst traffic in the city no thanks to their enormous investment in parking garages - despite being served by 5 trolley lines, 15 regional rail lines, a subway, and 5 bus routes.

as the saying goes - if you build it they will drive.
 
Top