A booming metropolis… the hustle and bustle of tourists and residents gliding from one place to the next, an active entertainment scene, sporting venues or a shopping mecca. While all of these downtown elements are typically coveted by most cities, they are often hard to achieve. If your city is in need of a transformation or needs to be updated in order to drive economic development, consider the following tips:
- Scrap the one-way streets – One way streets are great for funneling traffic into a downtown area, but are not so good for encouraging pedestrian traffic and increasing retail businesses. Recent studies have shown that the traditional one-way traffic flow can be a detriment for downtown economic development. Ultimately, seek to create traffic flows that encouraging foot traffic and the amount of time visitors stay and shop in the downtown area.
- Entertain them and they will come – It’s no secret that people will travel to great lengths to see their favorite band or entertainer. Work to create unique event spaces that will draw visitors and allow them to engage with downtown merchants and local entertainers. If your city remains consistent with creating unique events, local merchants will benefit and the city will start to establish a reputation for being an entertainment destination.
- Make it pretty – Unique attractions that create a sense of beauty often work to benefit a dated downtown area. Work to establish spaces that will drive engagement and make people want to stay, take pictures and invite others to join them. Elements like a beautiful water fountain, a mural, a graffiti wall; landscape sculptures or a dog park can all work to make a downtown space go from drab to fab. If funding for these spaces is an obstacle, look to local businesses to help design and/or sponsor these types of attractions.
- Hire an “A” team – When trying to develop a unique downtown atmosphere, it is important that a committed team is assembled in order to plan and implement the necessary changes. Owners of current downtown businesses, civic leaders and city government officials usually have the necessary knowledge that will help insure the successful implementation of ideas and programs that will transform your downtown area.