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Downtown Digest provides brief summaries of essential information from Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter.

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Big Landlord Responds to Pandemic with Rent Forgiveness

April 23, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic closed downtowns across North America, downtown Detroit’s biggest landlord tried something different. Bedrock, a major property owner in the struggling city’s commercial core, told tenants it wouldn’t collect their rent. The most generous rent forgiveness terms go to small businesses, while bigger companies can get smaller breaks. "It is going to…Continue reading


Global Pandemic Creates Challenges, Disruption for Downtowns

April 9, 2020
Downtowns are positioned to rebound strongly from the coronavirus pandemic. When that rebound might occur, however, is uncertain. That’s according to downtown leaders interviewed by Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter as the global pandemic spread. "Will we come back? Absolutely," says Dewitt Peart, president of the Downtown Austin Alliance in Austin, TX. However, Peart and others struggled to…Continue reading


Part 2: Leading Downtown in Challenging Times

March 26, 2020
Downtown leaders must find ways to help businesses through these tough times. Local governments and downtown organizations may be facing their own economic pressures, so increasing loan and grant money may not be an option. But reduced business fees, free peer counseling, help with advertising, and keeping business owners informed about funding sources can help.…Continue reading


Part 1: Leading Downtown in Challenging Times

March 19, 2020
The impact of Coronavirus will be big, deep, and constantly in the news, but downtown leaders must carry on. Interviews with economic development professionals and others suggest a range of strategies for supporting at-risk businesses, protecting the downtown’s market position, and growing the local economy in the months ahead. In this and future eNewsletters, we…Continue reading


New Streetscape Calms Traffic, Improves Pedestrian Experience

March 12, 2020
The town square of Athens, AL, boasts a century-old courthouse, bustling restaurants, and a church. Successful events such as a farmers market and a concert series are staged in the historic downtown. Incongruously, downtown Athens was also home to expansive thoroughfares seemingly designed for high-speed suburban traffic, not for a quaint downtown. "We had very…Continue reading


Hurricane-Battered Downtown Comes Back

February 27, 2020
As Hurricane Florence loomed in September 2018, downtown leaders in Wilmington, NC, had plenty of time to prepare. Downtown Wilmington Inc. canceled a commercial property showcase and collected cell phone numbers from downtown merchants. Workers took down street banners, removed hanging flower baskets, and scoured the downtown district for trash can lids, recycling receptacles, and…Continue reading


Getting Everyone On-Board with Pop-Up Retail

January 30, 2020
By all measures, the pop-up retail program in downtown Memphis, TN, is a success. However, Brett Roler, vice president of planning and development for the Downtown Memphis Commission, cautions that downtown leaders who expect instant success are likely to be disappointed. Roler says his first hurdle was persuading landlords to take a chance on pop-up…Continue reading


Closing Downtown Street Brings New Life

January 16, 2020
Pratt Street is a brick thoroughfare in the heart of downtown Hartford, CT. For all its promise, Pratt Street long has been bereft of pedestrian traffic. When the mayor proposed closing the street to cars, downtown leaders countered that further reducing activity on the street was the wrong approach. Instead, the Hartford Business Improvement District…Continue reading