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


Downtown Lakeland, FL has come a long way in the past 10 years, as far as streetscapes and parks go. However, I believe the downtown area could do alot better if the city commission and the downtown development authority (LDDA) would ease a couple of zoning restrictions to allow the district to diversify to the point where it would attract people of all ages and ethnicities. Its busy during weekday work hours, but its as dead as a door nail during the nights and weekends.

Most want more nightlife, entertainment and housing options to attract local residents, the "creative class" and empty nesters to town, but city leaders aren't doing the right things to get them here due to the fact that they don't want to offend the small but economically elite crowd who would like to see the area to go back to the way it was in the 1920's. Right now they continue to waste money hiring consultants that continously tell them what local citizens already know and have suggested for years.

For a city of 90,000 (500,000+MSA) the area is currently under developed due to restrictive zoning and urban renewal. Presently the commission will only allow 5 establishments in the district to serve alcohol, and the CBD is blanketed with a 60 ft height limit, which hinders the area from attracting the mid rise waterfront condos and office buildings that have become popular all over Florida. They also continue to allow street level surface parking lots, storefront churches, and office uses to locate on what should be major retail & dining streets. Due to the lack of entertainment, the majority of residents travel and spend their money in Tampa and Orlando. Several residents have suggested they should host more cultural events, and allow more nightlife and dining establishments to locate there instead of forcing them to the suburbs. Has anyone here ever dealt with a problem like this? If so, what are some things the city could do to diversify the CBD and make it become a 24/7 downtown?
This is a handout I developed to help downtown stay focused on pedestrians. (Monterey CA - 30,000 people. Trade area 120,000)


1. Street, sidewalk, and storefront design should focus on pedestrians.

People must be on foot before they can become customers.
Prime parking spaces should be reserved for customers.
Pedestrian barriers (physical, perceived, and distance barriers) should be removed.
Pedestrians should have a defined and protected space to walk.
Traffic calming should be used to slow traffic so pedestrians feel safe.
Sidewalks should have a destination feature (kiosk, sculpture, fountain, etc.) every 400-600 feet.

2. Downtown streets should create a feeling of pedestrian safety. The best design features are:

Two way traffic, one lane each direction, and parallel parking on both sides.
Tree bump outs into parking areas.
Trees with substantial crowns. Don’t use wimpy trees.
Different materials for streets and sidewalks (e.g. asphalt streets, concrete sidewalk).
Physical features separating the sidewalk and street (e.g. frequent trees or light posts).
Overhead features starting from the street side of the sidewalk (tree canopy, hanging plants, etc.).

3. The ideal storefront is interesting to pedestrians.

Storefronts should have windows, even for non-retail uses, but retail is the best pedestrian activity.
A change of use or storefront every 25-100 feet gives variety at “walking” speeds.
Windows that show any kind of activity in the store are entertaining and keep pedestrians walking.
Storefront windows at the edge of the sidewalk give the best business exposure.
Recessed storefronts have lower pedestrian interest and reduce customer awareness of the business.
Recessed entry doors provide visual appeal and attract customers.
Storefronts without recessed entry doors don’t invite a customer to enter.
Pedestrian signage is essential.
(a) Fin signs perpendicular to the sidewalk give you 90-120 seconds of free advertising.
(b) Building face or window signs at eye level give you 10 seconds of free advertising.
(c) No pedestrian signs means that pedestrians won’t identify or retain your business identity.
Auto-oriented signage above the window area is less important in pedestrian areas..
Facades without windows or with obscured windows discourage pedestrian flow.
Vacant lots, at-grade parking, and parking structures often stop pedestrian flow.

4. Parking is for customers

Lack of parking is rarely the reason a downtown is not vital.
Ideal distance to parking is one block per hour spent shopping or eating.
15 minutes = 1/4 block, 1 hour = 1 block, 2+ hours = 2-3 blocks.
“Shopping” at multiple stores without a single destination = 2-3 blocks.
Parking is most effective if tailored to the above time patterns.
Upscale restaurants need 90-minute parking for lunch.
A key role of special events is to show future customers where parking is available.
Parking control progression is (a) time limits, (b) parking fees, (c) time limits and fees.
Employee parking in prime customer spaces can be limited by
Time limits of 90 minutes or less with enforcement from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Parking meters.
Shared parking is the most productive for downtowns.
Parking should be designed to put pedestrians on the street, not directly into an individual business.
Exclusive parking (parking lot for one business only) is not desirable.

5. The ideal downtown street pattern is short blocks with two-way traffic.

Short blocks allow customers to “drive around the block” to find parking or businesses.
One-way streets are intended for high speeds and high traffic flow, not business access.
One way couplets bypassing a downtown usually destroy downtown business activity.
Street closures and pedestrian malls have not been successful in many cities.
One way streets can be “super calmed” as pedestrian streets but lose traffic capacity in the process.
Wulf9 said:
This is a handout I developed to help downtown stay focused on pedestrians. (Monterey CA - 30,000 people. Trade area 120,000)
Very nice.

Have you attended any IEDC events? I am wondering if I have met you.
Nope. I haven't gone to IEDC meetings. Downtown was a subsdiary part of my job in Monterey, so I wasn't sent to any downtown meetings.

Monterey downtown was fun. We went from 20% vacancies to no significant vacancies using a Main Street approach. The primary need to start out was organization (merchants, property owners, and the City Council were somewhat at odds). We solved that with discussion process that resulted in a BID board with 1/3 merchants, 1/3 owners, 1/3 appointed by the City. CA main street told us that wouldn't work - but we did it anyway. Now it is one of the models they suggest to cities.

I'm in a post-Monterey life now. I might get to some downtown meetings. Cloverdale downtown is still a subsidiary part of the job, but I get to choose which meetings I attend.
where did you start

For your community group, where did you start off. We are going to be getting a new bank building in our town square, and right now, there is limited shopping. But there is the promise of a night club going in, we have a new sports area / center, and a redone performing arts center all with in a few blocks of our downtown center. The down fall is no one wants to move in, because there is no organization right now.

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
no downtown...yet

My city has only been incorporated for six years. It's really a combonation of five even smaller cities that voted to merge together, resulting in a fragmented city with no real discernable town center/downtown. We only have 4300 residents, but high growth in the area may result in 15-20k by 2010.

We've just begun putting together our city's first comprehensive plan. Some of our main focuses are developing a town center and economic development. Personally, I'm hoping the city encourages an active traditional downtown. Some cities, like Southlake, TX, have made new "old style" downtowns with a town square using TIFs. I hope we can get some residential uses mixed in with the commercial so it becomes a 24-hour place to be.

Hopefully all will go well.
Ski Town Development

This is sorta sidetracked from the whole thread, but has anyone dealt with any of these issues in a ski town...or a similar resort town. I am currently interning in Aspen for the summer and one project I will be working on soon is a study into how to increase spending (i.e. get more people into the CBD) downtown. IF anyone has had to do reasearch on this type of project I am curious into how you tackled this task. I have been looking through similar town websites to see how they promote thier shopping, eating establishments, arts and recreation, and also I have been walking around and using my personal feelings on what the downtown is missing to try and brainstorm ideas on ways to increase the number of people in town. Any random thoughts, ideas, sites or related web resources I should check out? Many of you probably know that Aspen is not a typical town. There are many homes here in excess of 10 - 20 million. Your average resident carries their Chihuahua in their Prada or Gucci handbag, and there are more Porsche SUV's in this town then in the entire Chicago Metropolitan Area.