Beautification Programs

Principals & Practices of Operations

Operations in place management covers a wide scope of work from cleaning and maintenance to providing on-street services addressing safety and quality of life issues. For new professionals to be successful in their role as operations staff they need to have an understanding of building and running a successful operations program that caters to the unique challenges and opportunities in their districts.

Growing the Urban Forest 

Over 130 million acres of America’s forests are located right in our cities and towns. A healthy tree canopy provides direct value to our downtowns through increased property values, higher revenue streams for businesses, amplified comfort by pedestrians, reduction to the urban heat island effect, and most importantly, filtering of air pollutants and sequestering of carbon dioxide.

Root 107 Pop-Up Park

For decades, there has been a deficiency of park space in the downtown core. Recognizing this gap, the City of Edmonton set aside 1.7 hectares of underdeveloped and vacant land in west downtown to be the future home of a central downtown park in 2026.


The DTSF ArtBox gallery is a collection of 26 traffic signal control boxes wrapped with vinyl artwork from artists of all abilities from the area. Proposals were solicited in many languages, resulting in 176. A jury ultimately selected 66 artists, who were all paid stipends for their work.

Stop the Clutter, Save the Scooter

E-scooters and e-bikes are here to stay. Successful shared micro-mobility programs are helping cities through COVID recovery by boosting the local economy, in addition to reducing traffic congestion and emissions and increasing transportation access and equity. However, improper parking remains an issue particularly in denser downtowns. What innovations solve this problem so that cities can maximize the benefits of micro-mobility, without suffering the clutter? 

Breaking Barriers: Innovative Approaches to Greening

Greening is a challenge for many cities. UPMOs can propel greening efforts forward through capital expenditures, public-private partnerships and property owner engagement. This session will explore innovative approaches to installing green infrastructure in downtown right-of-ways, when traditional options have been exhausted. Solutions include leveraging public-private partnership, reimaging the public realm and doing a complete and total overhaul.

Memphis South City Good Neighbor Grant

The South City Good Neighbor Grant’s purpose is to help property owners and businesses in the South City Neighborhood make exterior improvements to their properties. Improvements to the existing businesses and important places within the South City community significantly impact the pedestrian experience in a neighborhood largely reliant on public transportation and alternate mobility options.

19th Street Rain Gardens

The Golden Triangle BID installed 11 bioretention cells and 10 expanded tree boxes on the sidewalks of one of the neighborhood’s key streets. This project is the result of years of planning, partnerships, advocacy, & fundraising. At over $1 million in construction costs and 2 full blocks of new green infrastructure, this is the largest capital improvement managed by the BID thus far.

Downtown Organic Waste Diversion Pilot Program

In 2017 the Downtown Kitchener BIA formed a Waste Task Force Committee. This Committee worked towards finding solutions for managing waste in our core. Through membership surveys and feedback, Clean Team 2 was launched; a successful program focused on moving garbage away from King Street and several side streets. Clean Team 2 is another beautification effort to improve the curbside appearance and embrace the funding invested in restaurant patios.

Fence Art Activation

The Fence Art activation started in 2019 and is an ongoing activation that thrives to bring beauty and art to the downtown area. The art is installed in areas that are fenced off due to development, construction, safety, etc. The art itself is sourced from a local artist and is built by community members, along with the artist. The message is in the art. Art should be an expression that can be absorbed by anyone within the community.

Placemaking Summit 2019 Opening Master Talk Presentations

Campus No. 805 is an award-winning adaptive re-use project that converted a former middle school campus into a mixed-use entertainment experience with multiple local breweries, restaurants, entertainment options and a public green space. Join us as we kick-off the inaugural Place Branding & Placemaking Summit with a multi-stop reception where attendees will get to experience why “school’s out forever” and full-time fun is the new curriculum at Campus No. 805.

Placemaking Summit 2019 Closing Master Talk Presentations

Closing Master Talk with Rob Robinson, Managing Principal, Urban Design Associates (Pittsburgh, PA), Anna Lowder, Co-Founder, Matter Design Co. (Montgomery, AL), Nick Lasater, Co-Owner & CEO, Rocket City Digital (Huntsville, AL), and Josh Yeager, Co-Founder, Bright Brothers Strategy Group (Philadelphia, PA).

Standout Place Branding

Change is constant in our line of work, and when change continually occurs in urban places and spaces, the stories that we tell about them must hold true. But how do you change the narrative of place and what does that entail? For urban place managers, branding a district / place conjures more questions than answers: how much will it cost? How many stakeholder groups do we need to involve and who? How long will it take? What are we actually branding? What is our brand? Will this even make a difference? In this panel, practitioners will detail the process of refreshing or enhancing a brand, including insights into the somewhat complicated and contentious process of deciding when to take action, how to set budgets, who to work with and how a brand refresh impacts more than just marketing collateral – it also affects the entire built environment and visitor experience.    

New Development Meets a Neglected Neighborhood

Congress Heights Community Training and Development Corporation developed a framework for investing in a place-based inclusive economic and social development strategy centered around Congress Heights. It was built on extensive community engagement with a broad variety of stakeholders, from large developers to local youth, to city economic development officials, to local civic association members and more.

Creating a Physical Sense of Place by Enhancing Infrastructure

By seeking improvements to landscaping, pedestrian lighting, wayfinding, visual identity, and event infrastructure, the Cherry Creek North BID leveraged a massive infrastructure project to quite literally build a new sense of place for the area. Countless hours of stakeholder and community outreach were undertaken in addition to hiring the foremost experts in design, architecture, and planning.

Surviving the Retail Apocalypse: Designing Storefronts that Sell

While retail retreat dominates the headlines, examples abound of innovation in storefront design, visual merchandising and unique experience for customers. This panel will demonstrate components of storefronts to help them sell – from doors and windows, to lighting, visual merchandising and more. Innovative approaches to design will be highlighted including activation of vacant storefronts and the public realm around them, and creative approaches to funding projects.

Pop-Up! Retail

As cities continue to grapple with storefront vacancies, short-term retail concepts are becoming essential to re-establishing the density of commercial districts and creating new, affordable business opportunities for local entrepreneurs. Find out how cities are supporting pop-up retail and dining by lowering barriers to entry for small businesses through regulatory incentives and comprehensive pop-up retail programs, with examples from California and Tennessee.

Hilton Carter Master Talk

Hilton Carter is a plant/interior stylist, director, fine artist, craftsman and re-patriated Baltimorean. For Carter, it all started with one plant, a fiddle-leaf fig named Frank. His interest in plants started out as purely practical: he was averse to putting up curtains in his New Orleans apartment, and decided to try a more natural approach to creating privacy, using plants.

Completion of the Boynton Harbor Marina Redevelopment Project

January 2017 marked the completion of the Marina Open Space Project, one of three redevelopment phases of the Marina Redevelopment Plan. The marina was purchased by the Boynton Beach CRA to maintain the “working waterfront” and ensure public access. The marina has nineteen, water-activity related businesses and three waterfront restaurants. The operation of the marina and the creation of much needed public waterfront areas is consistent with the mission of the Boynton Beach CRA and the Boynton Beach Downtown Vision & Master Plan.

Tactical Public Realm Guidelines

The Tactical Public Realm Guidelines came from the Public Realm Plan for Go Boston 2030. The guidelines cover policy and opportunities for enhancing the streets. A Better City and Utile worked with the City of Boston to develop guidelines for tactical activation. Utile created a document which also includes a guide for implementing outdoor elements. The new standards are aimed at making the process simpler and more transparent, in order to actively invite participation from neighborhood groups, businesses, and others.

Commonwealth Canal Promenade

The Commonwealth Canal Promenade was a key revitalization component to Chandler’s long-term redevelopment plan. The project included clearing oleanders and palm roots, re-establishing the flow line and concrete lining, and constructing a canal promenade. Other improvements included an art fence, railings with historic information panels, a courtyard, landscaping, lighting, drainage and roadway reconstruction. Collaboration with all involved parties ensured the project’s successful completion.

She Tempe

In an effort to revitalize and refresh the district’s street-level appearance, the Downtown Tempe Authority (DTA) decided to wrap the fourteen news racks throughout the downtown district in works of art. Eleven local female artists were asked to submit works that portrayed females. This project celebrates local creative talent, enhances a sense of place and helps create an engaging and vibrant pedestrian experience in Downtown Tempe.

Umbrella Sky

Umbrella Sky is an art concept from Sextafeira Productions, a creative design company based in Portugal. There were two major components of the project, the colorful umbrellas and two large truss systems which were used to hang the umbrellas above Giralda Plaza. The Umbrella Sky project was a resounding success. An Instagram phenomenon, the city received global recognition and publicity through multiple channels, with especially strong results on social and digital media.

Former Mayor Edwin Lee Master Talk

Before passing in 2017, Edwin Lee was an American politician and attorney who served as the 43rd Mayor of San Francisco, and was the first Asian American to hold the office.

Dumpster Art-Wrap Project

In March 2016, the Midtown Association partnered with local a property owner, a local artist, and trash hauler company Waste Management to introduce the first art-wrapped dumpster in Sacramento, CA. The pilot project also served to support the city and county’s ongoing efforts to reclaim public spaces while reducing blight and other negative activity related to dumpsters and alleyways. All of the dumpster art-wrap projects help promote collaboration among a diverse group of community members.

Busting Graffiti Downtown

As part of its clean and safe initiatives, Portland Downtown collaborates with the City of Portland to maintain a vibrant downtown indicative of an economically prosperous business center. While cleaning graffiti from private property is the responsibility of the property owner, a collaborative arrangement between the city, the BID, and a nonprofit service learning organization ensures prompt response to addressing graffiti vandalism.

Bringing Back Main Streets

A look at historically popular areas that went through an idle period, but have since seen a resurgence through a combination of means (space management, economic development, etc).

It’s A Parking Lot Problem

Parking lots had taken over the landscape of downtown Mobile, AL. One of the top five complaints the Downtown Mobile Alliance heard referenced was the “conditions of the [privately owned] parking lots.” In 2012, the Downtown Mobile Alliance hired DPZ to develop a form-based code for downtown. This would provide architectural guidance for building in the areas of downtown that were not within a historic district.

Downtown Rideau Mural Boxes Art Exhibit Tour

Downtown Rideau Business Improvement Area (DRBIA), in partnership with the City of Ottawa, expanded an initiative initially designed by the city as a project to reduce graffiti removal maintenance costs on utility boxes by vinyl wrapping them in a transit motif design. The D.R.B.I.A took the initiative to an entirely different level by building on its brand as Ottawa’s Arts, Fashion & Theatre District and turning the utility boxes into original works of art.


The 34th Street Partnership (34SP) had a problem: the proliferation of many poorly-maintained, dirty, and often empty newsboxes – single units vending a single publication – on the sidewalks. 34SP addressed this problem by developing 34SP-branded “Newsracks,” each capable of holding multiple publications. They believed that, if provided an alternative to the traditional standalone newsbox, publishers would forgo the less attractive option and instead place their publications in 34SP’s units.

Top Issues Council: From Dumpsters to Biergartens

This publication looks at the placemaking of “interstitial” spaces – the connective tissue that lies between private developments and developed public spaces within the urban built environment. The perception of how we can make use of space is changing as cities strive to reclaim these in-between areas. Drawing on ideas from neighbors, businesses and community groups, UPMOs can implement physical interventions that revitalize and activate what would otherwise be a forgotten space.

Trash Talks: Approaches for a Waste-Free Public Realm

The cleanliness of a neighborhood’s streets and sidewalks is one of the most visible metrics by which urban place management organizations are evaluated. BIDs get firsthand experience with the impacts of too much trash on budgets, pedestrian activity, and business retention. Practitioners will share learnings on moving towards a sustainable and waste-free public realm by partnering with property owners and businesses and implementing innovative solutions.

Hidden Treasures and Neglected Spaces

Public space and alley activation are the hot new topics in the place management industry. This presentation shows how different districts are activating their neglected public spaces and alleys and incorporating art.

Activating Uncommon Spaces to Produce Memorable Events

From empty alleys to mall parking to sidewalks, the uncommon spaces of a community can provide the perfect location for “outside the box” events designed to revitalize the area. By activating these forgotten spaces, you can make the most of these unused urban assets and bring new life and crucial economic development to your community.

Setting the Future of Retail Downtown

This session will demonstrate importance and necessity for business improvement organizations to provide ongoing support to the retail sector. A case study will be presented from Iowa City detailing two very different two programs: infrastructure and marketing.