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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


Holiday Pop-Up Helps Start-Up Businesses

October 26, 2023
A popular business incubation program is expanding for the winter holidays. The Downtown Sacramento Partnership’s Calling All Dreamers program is now in its 10th year. The program mentors entrepreneurs as they compete for a chance to open a downtown storefront and earn a business start-up package valued at $100,000. To date a total of 15…Continue reading


The Enduring Value Of Parklets

October 20, 2023
The Rosslyn Business Improvement District in Arlington, VA, launched the first parklet in the Washington, DC, metro area back in 2018. Before the COVID-19 pandemic made parklets an international craze, the Rosslyn BID simply wanted to do something creative, and spur a reevaluation of how people use public space. The parklet is modest. It takes…Continue reading


Preparing For Natural Disasters

October 12, 2023
From wildfires to hurricanes to tornadoes, downtowns are feeling the effects of extreme weather events. Summer flooding in downtown Burlington, VT, and Montpelier, VT damaged many buildings and forced some businesses to close for weeks or months. "It’s a giant puzzle, but it’s solvable. It’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of…Continue reading