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.
Maintenance and Beautification
Through small urban contextually appropriate projects, urban acupuncture and the archeology of local knowledge facilitate social and physical changes in the larger context beyond the district. This type of placemaking technique serves as a catalyst for the regeneration of dormant social networks and capital exchange.
Just like painting, achieving success with décor activations is all about the prep work. Garrett Peterson from Downtown Decorations, Inc. will explain the steps involved in the process, from infrastructure requirements to design and considerations for install storage and maintenance.
Let’s Glow SF is a 10-night holiday activation, the largest holiday projection mapping event in the country. Shows were played in a continuous loop with custom music starting at 5:30 pm and ending at 10:00 pm. Each light show ranged in length from five to seven minutes. Let’s Glow SF received wide media praise for its innovative use of art and technology to bring visitors and workers back to downtown, which had been suffering under the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
What started as a weedy, deserted eyesore became a beautiful, welcoming parklet in May 2021. Sponsored by Ben E. Keith Foods, the Main Street Pocket Park is a collaboration of love, sweat, and a desire to see downtown Little Rock continue to thrive and grow.
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.
The Allegheny Overlook, or ‘AO,’ was a brand-new pop-up park that transformed a portion of Fort Duquesne Boulevard in Downtown Pittsburgh, highlighting live performances, arts, and culture while showcasing one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic riverfront views. The pop-up park reimagined a peripheral boulevard and an underutilized riverfront park in the city’s urban core, creating a more vibrant Downtown in a city rebounding from the effects of the pandemic.
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?
COVID forced diners outside and now many downtowns are exploring ways for the outdoor dining experience, via parklets, to become permanent. This presentation explores the process of finding the balance between creating a cost-effective and inviting space and needed government guardrails to ensure safety and access. Many see this emerging experience as a way for restaurants to survive economically and meet the growing customer desire.
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.
Managing parks takes time, resources and people determined to succeed. From operations and maintenance to planning for programs and events, employing the assistance of cutting-edge technology can quickly yield results. Dynamic management systems can make every site a case study unto itself. The lessons learned from one park can be scaled and applied to other public places as well.
Every downtown faces the challenge of vacant and blighted commercial buildings. These problems often appear intractable and frankly beyond the reach of an urban place management organization. Learn how two cities decided to step up and tackle this problem head-on with a data-driven approach using both carrots (incentive outreach) and sticks (litigation). Hear about what worked well and what didn’t.
The Dining on the Spot program, which provided expanded outdoor dining options when indoor seating was closed early March and April, was directly responsible for keeping Downtown West Palm Beach restaurants in business. In addition to creating a mechanism to continue serving customers, the DDA also provided funding for equipment rental and a branded signage program for restaurants participating in Dining on the Spot.
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.
Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) unveiled the “Bethesda Streetery” in June 2020 as an economic recovery response during the COVID-19 pandemic. The open-air eatery featured an outdoor seating design with tables and chairs placed on closed streets in downtown Bethesda, MD. Streetery attendees were invited to “Picnic on the Avenue” after picking up food and beverages from any local Bethesda restaurant.
To support struggling restaurants, DSSD worked with a multi-department team from the City to implement StrEATeries within one week of re-opening the state to outdoor dining. The initiative created ~1,000 outdoor dining seats beyond those typically allowed on the city’s sidewalks through two complementary approaches.
Fifth Avenue, the world’s most famous street and the centerpiece of New York City’s holiday splendor brightened the Big Apple like never before with Make it Bright, a new campaign that takes two-holiday staples – toys and lights – to a new level.
Downtown Vision designed Halloweek as our first foray into holding safe events and promotions during the pandemic. This multi-pronged holiday celebration allowed us to promote and support Downtown Jacksonville’s small businesses and to create socially distanced, family friendly events for Halloween week 2020. Three key elements composed Halloweek: Decorating Downtown, Driving Traffic to Small Businesses, and Creating a Socially Responsible, Family Friendly Event for the Community.
While most of the nation is sweltering in record heat, many of us in the operations world are already in deep preparations for winter weather. Representatives from Cleveland, Denver and Edmonton will discuss the preparations they undertake to be ready for winter weather, specific areas of management and responsibilities, and the partnerships they depend on to keep their districts accessible and safe throughout the winter months.
Streets, parking spaces and sidewalks comprise the largest area among types of public space in downtowns across the world. Pre-pandemic, managing parking for delivery bikes and procuring permits for outdoor cafés was challenging. However, reduced traffic presented opportunities to take advantage of these resources in new ways. Join this discussion of management models, programs, and regulatory frameworks that have shifted the use of our public assets to small businesses that need it most.
The relationship between greenspace and the urban environment can have a profound effect on a district’s public space. This webinar will focus on how a team in Austin, TX raised the standards of urban horticulture in their area. Panelists will discuss how to implement sustainable methods for planting downtown, from starting up a program and identifying partners to plant selection, soil science and innovative tools for management.
As public space becomes increasingly more valuable, the community interest and benefits of parklets have steadily increased throughout 2020. Generally defined as people-friendly spaces which introduce street furnishings (in street) curbside, parklets are providing respite and generating revenues in their communities. Panelists will discuss the process to put together and maintain parklets of all kinds in their district.
The DowntownDC BID worked with its contractor, Cube84, to integrate the BID’s instance of Salesforce-based database to the District of Columbia’s 311, non-emergency hotline. The BID works to monitor elements of public space such as sidewalks, streetlights, and street signs to help ensure they stay in a state of good repair. The BID reports defects in public space to 311 (referred to as cases) and works directly with the city agencies to ensure repairs are made in a timely manner.
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.
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.
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.
This project was initiated to improve the pedestrian experience along the popular Bloor Street and create new beautiful and environmentally conscious public places to sit, rest, and enjoy the outdoors. It involved the transformation of four underused paved right-of-ways into a series of new dynamic green spaces. These parkettes feature trees, pollinator-friendly gardens, wood decking, bike parking, and custom site furnishings.
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.
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).
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.
A checklist of priorities a BID should have in mind at various stages of the development of a nighttime economy.
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.
While considered the spine of downtown Denver, by 2016, the Mall’s image had become one of a place overrun by homeless and violent individuals. Comments on social media and media reports led to a general perception that the Mall was lost to crime and homelessness and not a place to visit. However, what most of the public did not realize was that the Downtown Denver Partnership had already been working with stakeholders to develop a Security Action Plan (SAP).
Downtown alleys—traditionally characterized as dirty and dark—present a unique opportunity for transforming unusual spaces into memorable public experiences. The Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) pursued a broad placemaking program to activate underutilized public spaces (such as alleys). Termed “ACTIVATE,” the initiative transforms iconic Loop alleys into pop-up urban experiences. The events feature art, music, and more in unique urban settings.
Learn from leading experts in urban park management and improvement projects across the United States. The session will help build your value proposition for enhancing and investing in high-quality public spaces and green space, and in turn building value for the property surrounding your urban parks.
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.
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.
Global warming is a real concern and each of us has a responsibility to limit our carbon footprint – especially businesses. Typically, improvement districts use gasoline-powered equipment to augment manual labor cleaning efforts. Panelists will introduce alternative ways to achieve your clean and safe goals, and make a case for alternative options related to equipment that will reduce your carbon footprint and operating costs while improving efficiencies.
Ever wonder what it takes to put on a great event that fundamentally dials up your downtown revival efforts? Hear from practitioners who are executing innovative placemaking strategies that drive economic development and engage the creative economy – both day and night.