Public Spaces

Alleys as a business amenity

In many communities demolition of nearby buildings or creation of new parking lots, have exposed previously hidden facades, yet these spaces lack any aesthetic appeal to welcome customers. Unlike the front façade, visual improvements in ancillary spaces can achieve a dramatic impact at little cost. Read More

2017-12-21T02:05:38+00:00September 25, 2017|Local Ordinances, Places, Public Spaces|

Activating alleys and service areas on Main Street

Not all alley renovations involve costly makeovers. There are many examples where the programming of the spaces made them destinations, rather than physical improvements. For instance, Buckham Alley in Flint, Michigan. Back in 2011, in an effort to attract pedestrian traffic to the businesses located alongside this downtown alley, local residents organized a one-day music festival called the Buckham Alley Fest. In that first year, they had nine bands, fifty vendors, and nearly 1,500 attendees. Read More

2017-12-21T02:06:20+00:00September 18, 2017|Marketing & Promotion, Places, Public Spaces|

Transforming alleys and service areas on Main Street

In nearly every historic commercial district, there are two sides: the “public face”, which includes the storefront, the streetscape, and most of the activity; and the “behind-the-scenes area”, which includes the back alleys, utilities, and delivery zones. But more and more, these behind the-scenes spaces are being transformed into vibrant, active, public spaces, often for very little cost. And the great thing is, the “unfinished” or “gritty” appearance of these areas actually creates a perfect backdrop for the types of activities often held within them. Read More

2017-12-21T02:06:59+00:00September 12, 2017|Places, Public Spaces|

Transforming unseen infrastructure into community assets

Too often, community enhancement conversations start with a conversation about elements that are perceived to be missing. For example, discussions might center on how to fund a new pool, splash pad, bike rack or parking lots—but seldom do these conversations include an assessment of the utility of existing infrastructure: How are the existing streetscape and built infrastructure performing? What is the potential for past investments to evolve and reflect current needs? Can we get more use out of these items before we add something new? It is all too easy to overlook the existing infrastructure, but as the examples below prove, examining it with fresh eyes can result in unexpected and impactful projects. Read More

2017-12-21T02:09:29+00:00July 17, 2017|Community Engagement, Places, Public Spaces|

Dogs and downtown: Growing demand for pet-friendly spaces

As the number of downtown residents and pedestrians increases, the desire for pet friendly spaces has also grown. This has created a conflict in many communities, where downtown green space is at a premium, and not everyone agrees that pets are a welcome user group for these spaces. However, several trends point toward pet-friendly community policies as a potentially vital element of future downtown revitalization. Read More

2017-12-21T02:11:27+00:00June 26, 2017|Local Ordinances, Places, Public Spaces|