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Creating pedestrian-friendly city centers

March 26, 2015
The paths to walkability are as diverse as the cities that implement them, and include upgrades to alleyways that provide additional pedestrian connectivity, pedestrian-friendly sidewalk design, centering development around public transit, and more. One community that has made great strides in enhancing walkability is Bethesda, MD. The work extended to downtown alleyways, some of which…Continue reading


Regional approach to marketing helps downtowns

March 12, 2015
Just as downtown businesses are realizing that advertising the downtown as a whole benefits individual businesses, whole communities are reaping the benefits of a more regional approach to marketing. "We know that people travel from place to place and town to town and don’t necessarily travel by county or state lines,” says Lisa Challenger, director…Continue reading


Facade Improvement Programs Produce Real Economic Benefits, Study Says

February 25, 2015
Increases in new customers, rental incomes, and property values were seen in a recent study of the impact of facade improvement programs. To help downtown professionals better determine the ROI of these types of improvements, a team at the University of Wisconsin-Extension examined the impacts of storefront improvements over the past 15 years. “The intent…Continue reading


Housing Fair and Incentives Attract New Residents

February 11, 2015
To overcome negative perceptions that might discourage new residents, the city of Dundalk, MD, launched a branding campaign backed by an ambitious public engagement process, and featuring a new website, media partnerships, public events, incentives for home purchases, and more. Central to the program was a housing and neighborhood tour hosted by the Dundalk Renaissance…Continue reading


Increasing Demand for Urban Living

January 29, 2015
The January issue of Downtown Idea Exchange looks ahead to some of the challenges and opportunities that face downtown leaders in 2015. One of many important trends is an influx of millennials and baby boomers seeking urban living. This group is creating the most demand for downtown housing, as well as specific types of amenities,…Continue reading


Vibrant Street Scene Emerges in Downtown Pittsburgh

December 30, 2014
With the downtown an economically stable commercial center, but, “totally dull,” the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in Pittsburgh, PA, created a new grant program in 2007 to encourage restaurateurs to bring new vitality to city streets by moving their restaurants outdoors. The program offers a 50-percent matching grant of up to $30,000 ($60,000 for corner properties).…Continue reading


Saving Historic Theaters is an Economic Development Mission

December 12, 2014
A downtown theater provides not only entertainment, but a venue for other events that attract people downtown, and cross-promotional opportunities with nearby synergetic businesses such as restaurants, bars, book stores, and arts-based retail. The Great Recession of 2008 left many small downtown theaters struggling financially. On the heels of that, theater owners must now finance…Continue reading


12 Strategies that Will Transform Your Downtown

December 4, 2014
In the December issue of Downtown Idea Exchange, guest columnist John Karras shares 12 strategies that can transform virtually any downtown into a more vibrant place. The list includes structural changes, like street reconfiguration (Turn one-way streets into two-way streets), short-term steps (Establish a regularly occurring public event), and management approaches (Consolidate regional economic development…Continue reading