Downtown Idea Exchange

Each month downtown leaders turn to Downtown Idea Exchange for practical news reports, how-to information, and hundreds of real-world examples of how downtowns are growing and prospering.

 


To reopen downtown, consider outdoor dining, “parklets,” and “flex zones”

June 1, 2020
The recovery from the coronavirus crisis threatens to be arduous and slow-moving. But architects Alan Pullman and Shannon Heffernan say there are steps cities and their downtowns can take now to speed the revival. Pullman and Heffernan, of urban design firm Studio One Eleven in Long Beach, CA, urge cities to use “parklets” and “flex…To read more — login/subscribe

 

Parklet vs Pedlet

June 1, 2020
A play on the word “parklet,” a pedlet allows for outdoor dining on the sidewalk while the adjacent parking space is converted to a pedestrian way. This arrangement allows for unobstructed travel by both pedestrians and restaurant staff.  Great Falls, MT, was an early adapter of the concept, launching its first pedlet in 2017. Last…To read more — login/subscribe

 

Uber, Lyft increase congestion; here’s how one downtown copes

June 1, 2020
One downtown has dealt with a crush of Uber and Lyft drivers by directing the vehicles into designated rideshare hubs. Before the coronavirus shutdowns silenced downtown Orlando, FL (est. pop. 285,705), city officials say designating locations for drivers to pick up downtown patrons improved traffic flow during the late-night rush hour when bars closed and…To read more — login/subscribe

 

Even after all-clear, downtown foot traffic might not return to normal

June 1, 2020
A reopening of the U.S. economy doesn’t mean activity levels in downtowns will immediately return to normal. As the coronavirus pandemic has dragged on, it has become clear that consumers and merchants will take time to resume old behavior patterns, says Matt Wagner, vice president of revitalization programs at Main Street America. That means downtown…To read more — login/subscribe

 

Makerspaces at libraries create hub of activity

June 1, 2020
While the Covid-19 pandemic complicates their efforts, two Kansas libraries offer case studies in successfully drawing visitors downtown with makerspaces. Budding entrepreneurs in Overland Park, KS (est. pop. 192,525), can try their hands at a variety of technologies — including 3D printers, high-end video software, a TV studio, a sound studio, and machines for laser…To read more — login/subscribe

 

Restaurants play outsized role in thriving downtowns

June 1, 2020
As economic engines, restaurants don’t get a lot of respect. Eateries pay paltry wages to generally low-skilled workers, and dining establishments are notorious for their high rate of failure. And yet, try finding a thriving downtown that doesn’t boast good restaurants. “Restaurants are extremely valuable to cities,” Andrew Salkin, a founding principal of the nonprofit…To read more — login/subscribe

 

Clear the curb: Three tactics to make curbsides less chaotic

June 1, 2020
Even before the coronavirus pandemic brought attention to such streetside features as parklets and flex zones, cities were rethinking how to use these important but overlooked areas. Many cities are saddled with last-century practices that prioritize parking for single vehicles over reliable bus lanes, safe bikeways, efficient loading areas for freight, or even public space.…To read more — login/subscribe