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Downtown Expands Retail Base

January 11, 2024
 Iowa City, IA, the Iowa City Downtown District is testing novel ways to serve existing merchants and recruit new ones. In one successful strategy, the Downtown District runs its own delivery service. It leases a vehicle and pays a driver, and deliveries are free to customers within a 15-mile radius of downtown. In another program…Continue reading


Top 5 Articles of 2023 — Plus a Special Offer

January 4, 2024
Every week we share an article summary from Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter. Over the course of the year we’ve covered everything from business recruitment, to streetscape improvements, to placemaking, and more. To wrap up the year, we’re highlighting five of our most popular posts. Creative, informative, and adaptable, they showcase some of the best work in downtown…Continue reading


More Outdoor Drinking Coming in New Year

December 28, 2023
As of December, Panama City, FL, allows visitors to consume alcohol two days a week while strolling through the Downtown Panama City Social District. City officials approved the new district despite opposition from skeptics who say looser rules encourage public drunkenness. Panama City was one of many communities to launch an outdoor drinking district in…Continue reading


How to Fund Office-To-Residential Conversions

December 20, 2023
President Joe Biden has unveiled a policy designed to spur conversions of empty commercial buildings to residential use. The plan calls for public financing of office-to-residential projects, the sale of some federal properties, and targeted tax incentives. "Office and commercial vacancies across the country are affecting urban downtowns and rural main streets," the White House…Continue reading


Downtown Shares Hidden Treasures

December 14, 2023
For one day in September, 23 buildings in downtown Riverside, CA, opened their doors to visitors. Most allowed guests to wander at their own pace, while others hosted guided tours. The buildings included several churches, historic buildings, and small museums. The annual Doors Open Riverside is one of many Doors Open events throughout Europe, North…Continue reading


Street Murals Slow Traffic

November 30, 2023
Cities nationally are embracing a low-cost way to boost traffic safety and reduce pedestrian fatalities: They’re installing street murals. Compared to installing roundabouts or narrowing streets, asphalt art is a quick and inexpensive way to slow cars and make motorists more aware of their surroundings. Fast Company magazine labeled the concept a "ridiculously simple" way…Continue reading


Two Studies Point to Opportunity Downtown

November 16, 2023
The post-pandemic performance of the nation’s city centers continues to be a mixed bag. On the downside, downtowns are facing some well-documented problems. Office space remains underused, and office-serving merchants are struggling. At the same time, city centers bear the brunt of homelessness. But downtowns are also proving remarkably resilient. They have begun to recover…Continue reading


Big Benefits of Small-Scale Placemaking

November 9, 2023
A "pawp-up" park for dogs downtown. A basketball court in a formerly unused underpass. Wayfinding signage drawn on sidewalks with chalk. Painted pianos in public parks. Not every downtown attraction needs to be a major undertaking. There’s a real role for small, inexpensive projects. Errin Welty, senior downtown development director at the Wisconsin Economic Development…Continue reading


Homeless Help Cleanup Downtown

November 2, 2023
In Lethbridge, Alberta, downtown leaders are keeping streets clean and engaging the city’s unhoused population. The Clean Sweep Program pays homeless people $15 an hour to perform basic maintenance. Their tasks include trash pickup, snow removal, and disposing of needles, pipes, and other paraphernalia from the downtown’s designated drug consumption area. In recent years, social…Continue reading