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Outdoor Kiosks Breathe New Life Into Downtown

October 22, 2020
A concept born from desperation offers inspiration for downtown leaders grappling with the pandemic. In tiny Tionesta, PA, a long-vacant lot was transformed into an outdoor shopping experience and business incubator using garden sheds. The project started during a 2012 meeting of the Forest County Industrial Development Corp. and the Forest County Industrial & Commercial…Continue reading

 

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Street Performers Draw Visitors Downtown

October 8, 2020
A few years ago, Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis experienced something of a dress rehearsal for the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pedestrian street was disrupted by construction in 2018, pedestrian traffic dropped from 20,000 people a day to 13,000. "It was kind of a ghost town during construction," says Lisa Middag, director of Nicollet Activation…Continue reading

 

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

October 1, 2020
In one downtown, self-parking garage shows glimpse of future — In an initiative that promises to reduce the amount of downtown space devoted to parking, Ford, auto parts maker Bosch, and a prominent landlord in Detroit are developing a self-parking garage in that city’s downtown. See Ford’s video of its automated valet project below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok9ACzmGpUA ...

Outdoor kiosks breathe new life into long-dormant space — In downtown Muskeegan, MI, an empty block was filled with small businesses in pop-up chalets. Read the full story in this archive article.  ...

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Annual Festival Transformed

September 24, 2020
For the past 19 years, people have flocked to the annual Blueberry Festival in downtown Marquette, MI. The summertime favorite features sidewalk sales, food vendors, crafts, blueberry specials, pony rides, children’s activities, and inflatables. For 2020, the event was transformed from Blueberry Fest to Blueberry Quest. Starting the morning of Friday, July 31, 20 "blueberry"…Continue reading

 

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Downtown Takes Cleaning, Distancing Seriously, But Not Too Seriously

September 10, 2020
In Rosslyn, VA, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the form of purple stickers, signs, and banners placed throughout the 17-block Business Improvement District. The eye-catching additions include slogans such as "Rosslyn Ready" and "Clean Safe Connected." Dispensing stations for sanitizing wipes carry the phrase, "Clean it like you mean it." The steps…Continue reading

 

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

September 1, 2020
Curbside commerce, vacant-lot dining: Coronavirus inspires creative concepts — The city of Baltimore’s Design for Distancing contest is a program created to elicit ideas for innovative responses to the COVID-19 recession. The competition brought more than 160 entries, many from architects and urban design firms.  Read the Design for Distancing Ideas Guidebook. ...

“Environmental design” can contain crime, to an extent — Billings, MT has turned to the concept of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) to discourage loitering, public drunkenness, and vandalism. See the...

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International CPTED Association’s clear-eyed look at homelessness and environmental design . ...

Downtown takes cleaning, distancing seriously — but not too seriously — In Rosslyn, VA, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the form of purple stickers, signs, and banners placed throughout the 17-block Business Improvement District. Check out some photos of the ...

Rosslyn Ready signage . ...

Portable pop-up retail — Pop-up retail is part of the downtown development initiative in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. The city envisions businesses popping up in refurbished shipping containers. Read an archive article about creative retail space using shipping containers. ...

Iconic spaces reimagined — Nine bold concepts for Washington, DC spaces were developed by regional architects and designers for Washingtonian magazine.  ...

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Downtown Leaders, Stronger Together

August 27, 2020
In Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, several organizations and the city have come together to position the downtown for reopening. "Over the years, we’ve had different groups working on the revitalization and development of downtown," says Andrew Malcolm, urban revitalization manager for the city. "We felt that we could be more successful in promoting the amazing things…Continue reading

 

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

August 1, 2020
Downtown makeover includes improvements visible and invisible — Ottumwa, IA, has embarked on an ambitious program that includes new housing units, an overhaul of its streetscapes, and new attractions. This long-term work was supported by a Better Block initiative. Read the Ottumwa Better Block After-Action Report and watch the video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG_ogpGJNDQ&feature=youtu.be ...

Urban density doesn’t lead to coronavirus transmission, study says — The consensus was: Urban environments exacerbate the spread of COVID-19. There’s a small problem with that conclusion, however. It might not be true. Read a study from the Journal of the American Planning Association. ...

Regional trail connects to downtowns —  Last year the Metropolitan Planning Commission released a plan update for the 54-mile Bridge to Bay Trail in the Port Huron region of Michigan. See the St. Clair County Trails Plan.  ...

Public art turns chain link into attraction — An area of construction in Eugene’s downtown riverfront is surrounded by chainlink fence. The city will reimagine the fence as, “a canvas for temporary public work(s) of art.  Learn more about the project and to see the RFQ. ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

July 1, 2020
Downtown offers loans to struggling merchants — As the coronavirus shut down its city center, Memphis, TN, faced a mass extinction of small merchants. The Downtown Memphis Commission responded quickly, handing out short-term loans totaling $260,000 to 46 businesses. See Memphis’ application materials for emergency loans. ...

Eight low-cost ideas downtowns are using to spur their recoveries — The Kendall Whittier Main Street program in Tulsa, OK, wants to support businesses that are struggling with little or no income. To keep businesses viable, grants will be offered to help make rent or mortgage payments. If awarded, the grant will pay rent directly to the landlord. See the Kendall Whittier Rent Relief Program application. ...

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