Revitalizing a downtown area is one of the best things a town can do for itself. Beyond the simple joy it will bring to residents, beautiful downtown areas can be a huge draw for tourists and a great source of revenue for local businesses. But what makes a revitalized downtown successful instead of just an expensive vanity project?
Renovating a downtown area can be a real pain. Major construction can mean closed streets, which is expensive for everyone. Reduce the need for major works and preserve the flavor of your downtown area with adaptive reuse. Even the most run-down buildings can usually be salvaged and put to new use.
At least some of those new uses should be green spaces. Yes, they take maintenance, but nothing makes a downtown area more appealing than a few parks and gardens. Green spaces are beloved by residents, powerful tourist attractions and great spaces to host events in, especially during the warmer months.
Many healthy downtown and old town areas feature lots of pedestrian access. People like being able to walk from shop to shop, talking with their friends or simply window-shopping during their lunch breaks. It’s a feature of many of the most beloved downtown areas that they are enjoyable to walk in. This means, at the very least, slowing traffic through the downtown area, making sure the sidewalks are wide enough and providing plenty of crosswalks. Science has shown that planting trees, even just small ones, between roadways and sidewalks, can slow down drivers and make pedestrians feel more comfortable.
Refreshed buildings, new green spaces and plenty of room for pedestrians are just the beginning. You need to draw people into your downtown areas with attractions. Nice restaurants and a good amount of retail is a solid foundation, but festivals and other activities can really draw new people in. Even if the festivals only start ramping up after most of the shops are closed, businesses can still enjoy the benefits of people seeing their stores and deciding to come back. An attraction like a music festival, a garden show, a sidewalk sale or a craft fair can act as the introduction that makes your downtown area their new favorite recreation spot.
Downtown areas can be the pride and joy of the community, no matter their size. Whether you’re a small town looking to bring in tourists or a larger town looking to revive your reputation, sprucing up your downtown is a great investment.