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November 30, 2011

 I conducted some research before the last Downtown Workshop.  I came across an interesting piece by Destination Development and their work in York, PA (http://www.yorkpa.org/docs/Chapter%2013.pdf).  They list 18 ingredients of a successful downtown or district.  Let’s see how we’re doing:

  1. Intimate setting.  I think we’re average at best.  Isn’t downtown too big?
  2. Beautiful surrounding & street trees (curb appeal).  I believe we’re doing well in this category.  I love the vistas of the Altamont and surrounding hills, and of course, the City has poured a ton of money into the streetscape.
  3. Gathering areas & outdoor dining.  We’re working on the Plaza, and restaurateurs are creating additional outdoor dining opportunities.  We still need to get better.
  4. Convenient and incentive parking.  We have plenty of parking, and free is the best incentive.
  5. People staying and living downtown.  Uh-oh.
  6. A strong brand or retail focus.  Well, the list comes from a brand consultant, but I get it.  Lot of work to do here.
  7. Critical mass.  Not yet.
  8. A name for each district.  I think “Downtown Core” and “Eleventh Street area” is the beginning of this notion.
  9. Gateways & way-finding.  It’s on its way.
  10. Evening hours (retail) and nightlife.  Ouch!
  11. Activities and entertainment: water, art, music.  Grand Theatre, Block Parties, A Taste of Tracy, etc.
  12. Public restrooms.  I don’t know about this one.  My mother told me to make sure you buy something if you have to use a shop’s restroom.
  13. Visitor information (24/7).  Do websites count?  Otherwise, we’re back to the way-finding system.
  14. Quality merchandise.  I’m not touching this one.
  15. Good retail signage: blade signs, window displays to ext. spaces.  More needs to be done.
  16. Champions.  We have champions.
  17. Enthusiasm.  We have enthusiasm.
  18. A plan.  We have a plan.

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