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Downtown Digest News • Web Extras

March 2019

For one city, keeping employers happy means hundreds of meetings a year — It also means retaining local college students. Economic developers in Dubuque, IA, surveyed regional college students about their aspirations after graduation and found 55 percent of those surveyed were unsure if they would remain in the area. Those findings spurred the Greater Dubuque Development Corp. to market the region to young workers. See the “You Can Make It In Dubuque” brochure. ...

Pricey but effective, wayfinding signs are “voice of the city” —  Springfield, MA, has seen major new developments in recent months, including the opening of a casino and the rehab of the city’s Union Station. To help guide visitors to the city center, Springfield invested $400,000 in a series of wayfinding signs installed in late 2018. Read the Sign Research Foundation’s guide to urban wayfinding. ...

By focusing on five key themes, downtowns attract millennials —  New research from Arizona State University is providing insights into the type of downtown housing that millennials value. ...

Encouraging upper level residential —  To spur residential development in downtown Bradenton, FL, the city recently approved two new programs. Click the links below to learn more.  • Upstairs Residential Conversion Grant Program & Application • Restaurant and Food Services Incentive Program & Application ...

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February 2019

Downtown rewards commuters who don’t drive —  Durham, NC, has been testing two low-cost methods to discourage commuters from single-occupancy trips downtown.  Watch a video about the program below. ...

Parking management plan frees up hundreds of unused spaces —  While downtown Quincy, MA, has seen an influx of tenants and traffic in recent years, two aging parking garages became structurally unsound and were forced to close.To ease the squeeze, Quincy has implemented a variety of strategies. Read a report on Quincy's parking plan. ...

Weary of waiting for median construction, business district paints a mock-up on the street —  Frustrated at the slow pace of streetscape changes in the Douglas Design District in Wichita, KS, the board decided to paint a mock-up of the median and crosswalks so business owners, residents, and shoppers could get a feel for the changes.  See a video of the street painting from the Wichita Eagle. ...

Underpass upgrade beautifies entrance to business district —  In St. Petersburg, FL, the downtown business district known as the Deuces has been in a long decline, in part because Interstate 275 cuts through the neighborhood. In an effort to make the area more aesthetically pleasing, the nonprofit Deuces Live pushed to spruce up the I-275 underpass with murals, lighting, and landscaping. See the project video below. ...

“Agrihoods” take root —  Real estate developers are marketing “agrihoods,” developments that include community farms. Read ULI’s report on agrihoods....

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Makerspace Gives Fresh Spark to Downtown

January 24, 2019 — Downtown Lexington, VA, is home to an ambitious business incubator and makerspace that’s drawing interest from entrepreneurs in surrounding areas. Lexington Collaboratory & Makerspace is a 1,300-square-foot lab that lets startups tinker with their products. The Collaboratory also provides a team of mentors to dispense advice about legal matters, marketing, real…To read more — login/sign up

 

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January 2019

Makerspace gives fresh spark to downtown —  Lexington Collaboratory & Makerspace is a 1,300-square-foot lab that lets startups tinker with their products. The Collaboratory also provides a team of mentors willing to dispense advice about legal matters, marketing, real estate, finance, and professional development. Read an online article about maker space business models from makezine.com. ...

Engaging the public smooths planning process —  In Delaware, planners have used video games and board games to engage residents in the planning process. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Dots & Dashes game let residents participate in complex transportation planning. ...

Stimulating residential development —  The city of Elgin, IL, has awarded its first grant to install a sprinkler system in a downtown building. See the complete grant program information packet....

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New Zoning and Land-Use Rules Encourage Downtown Retail

November 29, 2018 — South Orange, NJ, had a business-recruitment problem. There was no shortage of tenants interested in setting up shop downtown — but the village’s rules didn’t allow for many of the types of experience-based tenants that are taking space in downtowns nationwide. The municipality’s rules were "very, very restrictive," says Bob Zuckerman,…To read more — login/sign up

 

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December 2018

A five-step plan for taking advantage of a nearby trail —  Hiking and biking trails can provide a spark of activity for nearby downtowns — but only if local leaders make a concerted effort to market themselves to the people using the trails. Read the North Country Trail Association’s guide to creating a Trail Town. ...

Opportunity Zones promise to spur development in low-income areas —  Opportunity Zones were one of the little-noticed pieces of the tax reform of 2017. The new designation promises to spur billions of dollars of new investment in low-income areas nationally. See a brief overview of Opportunity Zones. ...

Vintage signs have broad appeal —  Ghost signs are faded remains of hand-painted advertising signs on the exterior walls of buildings.  The National Park Service has an online brief, The Preservation of Historic Signs. ...

Invisible art —  “Invisible art” projects provide a rainy-day enticement to visit downtown. Jefferson, IA, is one of many cities to embrace a unique super-hydrophobic coating that is invisible on dry concrete, but reveals itself when it rains. Read an archive article, "A rainy day enticement for city centers."...

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