The Downtown Pandemic Assistant Grant Program was created to provide financial assistance to small businesses severely impacted by the COVID pandemic. The program application process was designed to be completed with simplicity and ease. Elements of the program’s success included a web-based application platform and marketing to alert area small businesses to the program.
The Festival of Markets took place in December 2021 for four consecutive weekends on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and a one day event held on December 23rd. Each weekend had a different theme and vendors including IndigenART, POPArt, Very Vintage Xmas, Afrik and Last Minute London. Vendors who were featured at our Festival of Markets came from various ethnicities including individuals from African, Asian and Indigienous descent as well as members from the LGBTQ+ community.
In October 2021, Partner Tulsa and Downtown Tulsa Partnership unveiled a 15,000sf mural titled “The Majestic” on the five-story façade of the Main Park Plaza garage in the center of the Downtown Tulsa Art Deco District. TPA collaborated with the Tulsa Arts Commission and Downtown Tulsa Partnership to undertake this public art commission focused on reinvigorating with activity and interest. At the time of the unveiling and today, The Majestic is the world’s largest augmented reality mural.
Diversity doesn’t happen by accident. The Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) believes that a downtown for everyone must be created by everyone. The DMC established an innovative set of policies and programs designed to proactively invite women and people of color into the process tackling commercial development projects. The DMC’s incentive toolkit was revised and expanded in an organized effort to ensure that the people engaged in this work reflect the full diversity of the community.
Gallery Alley began as a temporary pilot project with the goal of creating more walkability and increasing safety. Downtown Wichita received a grant to reestablish the space as a permanent destination for an intersensory art experience. Five Kansas artists were commissioned to create sculptures with a multi-sensory approach in order to be accessible to those with vision as well as those who are blind, visually impaired, and for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Rapid Recovery Plan (RRP) program distributed nearly $10 million across 124 communities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to assess impacts from COVID-19 and develop actionable, project-based recovery plans tailored to the unique economic challenges in downtowns, town centers, and commercial districts. In total, the program has resulted in nearly 1,000 actionable project recommendations requiring mixed levels of funding, technical assistance, and resources.
The Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri (DTC) had just begun a strategic planning process when COVID-19 brought things to a standstill. The events of 2020, including economic uncertainty and the elevated recognition of racial and social inequities, allowed the DTC and its partners to ask critical questions: how can we fully engage the community, and how do we ensure that the strategic plan ensures that downtown’s opportunities provide meaningful and tangible benefits for everyone?
Gilbert’s Heritage District (HD) is approximately 0.3 square miles in size, serving as the community’s downtown, entertainment district, and the cultural/historical center of the community. The intent of the HD Design Guidelines is to foster design excellence that encourages a pedestrian-oriented and adaptive environment that serves as the community’s historic living room. Gilbert initiated a review of the 2010 guidelines by holding meetings which included staff and a diverse steering committee.
Located in the core of downtown, Lake Eola Park serves as centerpiece for downtown and for Orlando. The Community Redevelopment Agency worked to master plan this valuable asset, re-envisioning it for the next 50 years. The process leading to the final master plan considered the place of the park in the context of the downtown, city, and region, along with a thorough analysis its surroundings, and an evaluation of how Lake Eola Park compares to other iconic parks throughout the country.
In 2018, the Parramore Asset Stabilization Fund (PASF) was formed as a collaboration of three high-performing nonprofits with the goal to transform affordable rental housing into sustainable quality homes. PASF purchased 83 residential units across 44 properties in Orlando’s African American Parramore neighborhood, with a commitment to renovate units and keep rents affordable for existing tenants. While delayed due to COVID-19, the project was successfully completed by December 2021.
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.
The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District conducted the first and only real-time enumeration survey of street homelessness targeted solely in downtown Atlanta and funded by the Community Improvement District. The survey was an all-volunteer, one-day outdoor event adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. Partner agencies included the Atlanta Police Department, the ADID Ambassador Force and a large group of downtown business and residential stakeholders.
Marriages on The Mile – Weddings at Wrigley was a first-time event collaboration between The Magnificent Mile Association and The Wrigley Building/Zeller. It existed as the premier event of a larger closed-street activation series on Michigan Avenue. The event featured 50 real-time weddings for couples displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic in a very public, very Chicago-centric location on The Magnificent Mile as part of the free, accessible lineup of programming on September 26, 2021.
The Bear Street Reconstruction project created a pedestrian-priority street in the heart of the Town of Banff. Running parallel to Banff Avenue, Bear Street is home to a mix of services. The reconstruction transformed the street into a pedestrian-friendly space where people live, shop, dine, enjoy culture and community amenities, or relax and take in the mountains. The reconstruction project has increased visitation to Bear Street and created more economic opportunity for area businesses.
Downtowns across the country are changing. The stakes for the future of downtowns could not be higher, with the vitality of urban cores hinging on employees returning to their offices and patrons returning to restaurants, events and activities. The Mpls Downtown Council recognized the weight of the moment early and identified an opportunity in our community to lead with collective action.
In response to the devastating cultural and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Black Joy StoryWindows was an effort to create a safe, outdoor, walkable and driveable, multi-media storefront gallery experience in the heart of downtown Oakland and simultaneously keep alive, and in the community’s consciousness, the power and beauty of the Black Joy Parade, an annual parade that follows the same footprint as our StoryWindows project.
Neighborhoods Now connects neighborhoods hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with leading design firms. Early in the pandemic, Jackson Heights became the pandemic’s USA epicenter threatening the livelihood of the families running micro-businesses in the community. Given its deep root in the community and knowledge of small business’s needs, the 82nd Street Partnership was tapped to become the local partner helping connect volunteer architects and designers with the most needed businesses.
The Times Square Alliance partnered with several organizations to pilot Community First, a program designed to help people in the district who are housing insecure and/or in need of human services and to create a more livable community for all. Community First addresses the economic and racial disparities of housing insecure community members in the area by building relationships and making connections to services such as housing, mental health, and/or benefits, among other services.
The Cool Spring Downtown District partnered with the city to launch the inaugural Night Circus: A District New Year’s Eve Spectacular. The family-friendly event was the first NYE celebration to occur in the city in nearly a decade. The event brought the magic of a traveling circus to the heart of Fayetteville. As the last seconds to midnight counted down, a commissioned 18ft. multi-colored star rose above the crowd, illuminated at midnight from within and without via a vibrant fireworks display.
Chicago Loop Alliance identified the need for a program to accelerate economic recovery, unite the community, and create joy. The project also needed to encourage people back to the Loop and restore their perception of the area. The concept for Sundays on State was to close Chicago’s most iconic street, to all traffic on select Sundays during the summer and transform into an open street full of art, culture, active recreation, food, drinks, shopping, and local attractions.
Prior to Covid, the Downtown Alliance launched the Explorer in Chief contest, calling for one-minute video submissions for the ultimate summer dream job. For the Explorer in Chief, this would be a life-changing opportunity to work as a travel ambassador in one of the world’s high-profile tourism destinations. For the Downtown Alliance, it would be a game-changing way to showcase Lower Manhattan as an extraordinary place to visit, work and live.
Toronto’s magical Window Wonderland, a free immersive urban art walk, returned to the Junction for its second consecutive year. From November 2021 to January 2022, Window Wonderland transformed the Junction into an interactive, outdoor gallery featuring 20 unique augmented reality (AR) installations by 40 talented local and international artists.
Barton Academy is considered the birthplace of public education in Alabama. As populations shifted from downtown, the building ceased operating as a school, and the future of one of the most historic buildings in the city was unclear. By May 2020, renovation of the national landmark was underway. Two hundred students were welcomed to campus on August 11, 2021. For the first time in 60 years, students walked the halls; for Black students, it was the first time ever.
Perhaps the best way to describe Burger Battle is to share the copy from DTSF’s website: Prepare your taste buds for battle! The 8th Annual Downtown Burger Battle presented by the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Foundation kicks off January 2, 2021 and will continue through the month of January. Participating restaurants will exemplify the breadth and variety of downtown dining by showcasing the classic American burger.
The Staff Supper and Heart & Soul Cookbook project was a partnership between RDBID and RWBID. Its goal was to support food and beverage establishments and their employees who had been laid off due to the closure and were experiencing financial and emotional hardship due to COVID 19. This program ran for seven weeks during Saskatchewan’s government forced closure (April through June 2020).
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.
In March of 2020 Twenty-two thousand office workers disappeared. Three-million visitors vanished. Our local retailers were shuttered. If ever there was a time to get creative, this was it. The decision was made to create a small matching grant program with an initial budget of $10,000 from our marketing account. A brand, Downtown Strong, and logo were created, and we began to promote the opportunity to our downtown businesses and non-profits.
Downtown Ventures’ Virtual First Friday promotion boosted community support for creative-sector retailers affected by COVID-19 closures. When Downtown Colorado Springs’ monthly gallery hop was canceled, Virtual First Friday bridged the patronage gap, pushing online sales as well as social media attention.
The Black Lives Matter Mural Project in the summer of 2020 enlivened and supported DowntownDC at a pivotal time for the community. This project beautified public space in the Gallery Place-Chinatown neighborhood with 35 outdoor murals, shifting boarded-up storefronts (due to inactivity because of COVID-19 and compounded by unrest and uncertainty related to social justice protests) into inviting, vibrant and hopeful spaces.
The Downtown Toledo Master Plan was undertaken as a collaborative and inclusive process, assembled by a broad coalition of public and private sector leaders desiring to improve a struggling downtown. The public was encouraged to participate in three public meetings, submit ideas online and visit several pop-up community input locations, resulting in more than 1,000 ideas and comments. The plan created a community-driven vision for future growth that has led to the dramatic revitalization of downtown Toledo.
VMF Winter Arts is a free, augmented reality experience transforming public space across Vancouver’s downtown core into a free, interactive, open-air gallery. Winter Arts showcases the talented work of 26 artists and animates over 20 downtown public spaces in a completely new way. Blurring the line between the virtual and physical worlds, VMF Winter Arts highlights the convergence of art and technology to safely engage and connect art and people in public spaces over three weeks.
Brighten the Passage is a public space and infrastructure improvement project aimed at consciously rebuilding physical and sociological connections between downtown Milwaukee’s central business district and the Historic Third Ward neighborhoods – connections that have been severed for decades by the elevated freeway. The project enhancements are practical and impactful tactics that included large-scale murals on the freeway support piers and dynamic, programmable color changing LED lighting.
The DSM Forward Playbooks are a strategic, ongoing project aimed at helping area businesses and industries prepare for the next steps related to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry-specific and professional business function playbooks are meant to provide guidelines and recommendations to assist in determining future strategies and tactics.
The Cincy Card Connection program was created and managed by 3CDC to provide immediate financial support to Downtown Cincinnati merchants. The program established a unique gift card matching system that benefits two businesses with one gift card purchase. In order to help as many local businesses as possible, the matching gift card would be purchased from a similar, but different, business.
Over the past decade, Memphis has begun a renaissance, leaning into tech, medical device/innovation, and agribusiness – industries fueled by the entrepreneurial spirit that locally-grown giants FedEx, AutoZone, and St Jude pour into our community. BUILDDOWNTOWN focuses on creating the kind of environment that is attractive to the demographic fueling most knowledge-economy jobs. It seeks to transform Downtown into a robust regional engine of economic opportunity, equity, and culture.
In 2014 community leaders were presented with a consultant’s findings on how to recharge downtown Topeka, and the primary recommendation was to build a community space to gather and create civic pride. With the Downtown Topeka Foundation leading the project, millions of dollars in public and private funding were pooled to make it a reality.
Completed in fall 2020, the Downtown Gateways Initiative created distinctive arrival experiences using signage, landscaping, hardscaping, lighting, public art and wayfinding at each of the nine vehicular points of entry to Downtown Colorado Springs. This intensive process incorporated qualitative input and engagement from more than 300 unique contacts and stakeholders.
The Center City Small Business Innovation Fund is an initiative designed to spur and support innovation and adaptation by small businesses as they adapt to the new economic realities caused by the COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn. This award delves into the details of the application, outreach, and review process as well as challenges faced in the program’s implementation.
Celebrated as a regional destination and center for the community, the new Lawrenceburg Civic Park dramatically re-presents the once fragmented vehicular landscape into a unified series of settings for people, nature, and programming. What was once 1.5 acres of paved parking lots is now a public space that fills a critical need in the city’s existing public open space and provides a regional destination as an outdoor entertainment venue.
The DTLA Virtual Tour platform is an innovative tool developed by the Downtown Center BID to showcase the Downtown Los Angeles real estate market, its most significant properties, public spaces, and development projects, to investors, developers, brokers, and prospective commercial and residential tenants. With a dynamic combination of interactive technology, digital mapping, high-definition photography, and drone video footage the DTLA Virtual Tour offers both a bird’s-eye view of downtown.