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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.

We often have valuable background material, additional information, or related resources that we just can’t fit in the newsletter. The links below will take you to the full documents, articles, videos, websites, marketing materials, and more.


Downtown Idea Exchange, Web Extras

September 1, 2022
City develops process, guidelines for building tree canopy — In 2020, a catastrophic windstorm ripped through Cedar Rapids, IA. In addition to several deaths and billions of dollars in property damage, the storm destroyed more than half of Cedar Rapids’ tree canopy. In the aftermath, the city hired an urban planner and a national landscape architecture firm to rebuild the city’s urban forest. See the full ReLeaf Cedar Rapids report. ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange — Web Extras

August 1, 2022
Downtown’s bold plan envisions sweeping changes — The city center in Kansas City, MO, has experienced “vast improvements” over the past two decades. A sweeping proposal calls for even more changes in the coming decade. The Downtown Council early this year released the Downtown KC 2030 Strategic Plan. Read an executive summary of Kansas City’s plan. ...

City approves outdoor drinking zone — but only amid strong pushback — Downtowns nationwide have embraced outdoor consumption of alcohol. But in Wisconsin, the idea of designated outdoor refreshment areas, or DORAs, has met local resistance. In late June, Oshkosh, WI, approved a DORA, making it only the second downtown in the state to allow such a district. See Oshkosh’s ordinance. ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange — Web Extras

July 1, 2022
How downtowns are incorporating heat mitigation into their designs — In Tucson, AZ, summertime temperatures are hot — and getting hotter. In response, the city has begun requiring shade structures and other heat mitigation. See the full report on heat strategies. ...

Community owned store marks milestone — Village Mercantile recently celebrated its 10th anniversary of continuous operation in the upstate New York town of Saranac Lake. To learn more read the archive article, “Community develops locally owned department store to meet needs.” ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange — Web Extras

June 1, 2022
Four lessons from a marginal neighborhood’s turnaround — In San Diego, CA, a decades-long experiment to revitalize a long-neglected community has made notable progress. To learn more, read the report Activating the Power of Place: A Case Study of Market Creek Plaza.  ...

Small downtown uses multi-pronged approach to drive turnaround — Toccoa, GA, boasts a thriving downtown and a bustling historic theater. It has even carved out a niche as a setting for filmmakers looking for an iconic courtroom and Main Street. For more information, read the Archive Article, “Insights into successful pedestrian malls.” ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange — Web Extras

May 1, 2022
After turnaround, long-empty space becomes hive of activity — For decades, a former furniture store and warehouse in downtown Swainsboro, GA, sat empty. Now it’s a thriving hub that’s home to an antique mall and a gallery featuring local artists. To find out more, see Lynn Brinson’s presentation, “Diamonds in the rough: Transforming underutilized spaces into downtown anchors.” ...

Locating bike share stations in crowded city centers — When new bike share stations were installed in downtown West Palm Beach, FL, they were located directly on city sidewalks. It’s an option that’s feasible so long as certain guidelines are met. Read the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ guide to bike-share stations. ...

Connecting with public art — At the height of the pandemic when cabin fever had set in and people were weary of travel restrictions. Two European cities found a way to create safe and meaningful interactions. Digital portals were installed in public plazas in Vilnius, Lithuania and Lubln, Poland.  Watch a video about the portals below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRvbxiCj79E ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange — Web Extras

April 1, 2022
Recruitment program offers to pay down student loans — The rise of remote work has inspired localities to pay remote workers to move in from out of state. Now Van Wert, OH, is joining that group. See details of the Van Wert County Foundation’s Learn and Return program. ...

Nonprofit buys dozens of buildings in crumbling downtown — Following half a century of decline, the downtown in Van Wert, OH, is getting a major makeover. Watch a local television station’s overview of Van Wert’s project. ...

Light art enlivens downtown during winter — Cary, NC, just wrapped up another year of temporary outdoor light and technology installations downtown. Read about the Glow. ...

Getting back to the office — To better understand downtown workers’ attitudes toward work and the city center, the Greater Des Moines Partnership commissioned a survey of 5,200 people from 18 businesses in the area. Read the initial summary report. ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange — Web Extras

March 1, 2022
Downtown proponent breathes life into one small town, hopes to repeat feat — Downtown Bellefontaine, OH, was nearly knocked out by the arrival of national retailers on the outskirts of town in the 1990s and by the Great recession in the first decade of the 2000s. But the town is fighting back. See a case study about downtown Bellefontaine’s revival. ...

Downtown enacts three-pronged response to pandemic downturn — The pandemic dealt a number of blows to the once-thriving downtown in Sacramento, CA.  The Sacramento Downtown Partnership's recovery plan includes $200,000 for event activation assistance. Read more on event assistance programs. ...

Old cinema is revived as downtown cultural hub — For decades after it opened in 1930, the Soo Theatre was the place to see a movie in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. But when a multiplex came to town, the one-screen cinema struggled, finally closing its doors in 1998. Read the League of Historic American Theaters’ manual on theater rescue, restoration, rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse. ...

Flexibility needed to fill vacant storefronts — In an effort to fill vacant downtown storefronts, the City of Seattle temporarily relaxed limits on storefront uses. The legislation applies to specific areas including the city’s retail core.  See ordinance 126421. ...

Crokicurl: A new downtown activity — Memorial Square in Prince Albert, Sask., Canada, is drawing visitors downtown on even the coldest days. They are there to play crokicurl and maybe to linger for a warm drink and a little shopping. Check out Public City Architecture Inc’s instructions for setting up and playing crokicurl.  ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange — Web Extras

February 1, 2022
Event grants help fill downtown calendars — For downtown leaders who want the benefits of a full event schedule but don’t want to run events themselves, a downtown grant program is a useful tool. see the First Time Event Planning Guide from the Rochester, MN, Downtown Alliance. ...

Remodeled bridge reconnects downtown neighborhoods — For decades, the Main Street Bridge separated the core of downtown New Britain, CT, from the Little Poland neighborhood. The overpass was poorly lit, with narrow sidewalks, and the roar of traffic from below.  In 2019 all that changed when the bridge was renovated and re-named the Beehive Bridge. Watch a two-minute video of the Beehive Bridge below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpPtYsT1OTw ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange — Web Extras

January 1, 2022
Facing years of construction, residents, leaders join forces — In Middlebury, VT, an infrastructure project was set to tear up roads and disrupt the downtown for six years. Read a full overview of Middlebury’s efforts to promote downtown during the disruption. ...

New downtown group works to broaden office district’s appeal — In San Fransisco, with white-collar workers staying home rather than going to their offices, pedestrian traffic plummeted in the Financial District during the pandemic. And fewer people meant less business for the restaurants and bars in the district. Watch the promotional video below for San Francisco’s public art show.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dimqa7wDWUA ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange — Web Extras

December 1, 2021
Lynn Lights wins praise for community involvement — A series of public art projects has helped Lynn, MA, shake off its malaise. Read an archive article about the Beyond Walls mural festival. ...

Gateway project creates strong sense of place — The Colorado Springs Gateways Initiative was a clear win for the city’s downtown. The new landmark signs at the entrances to downtown are eye-catching, and the project was honored with an award from the International Downtown Association. See an implementation guide and photos of Colorado Springs’ Gateways Initiative.  ...

To fight blight, agency buys downtown’s tallest building — To stop the decay of a downtown landmark, the Downtown Memphis Commission this spring deployed a creative — and risky — strategy. It paid $10.75 million for the entire block that’s home to 100 N. Main. Street. See a video tour of 100 N. Main St. below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i2W1J8TZ8k ...

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