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5 Tips for Revitalizing Inner City Commercial Corridors
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Back in March, we joined hundreds of community development practitioners in Chicago for the “Getting it Done II” conference hosted by the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development. Several roundtables and workshops allowed participants to dig deeper in to their particular community development interests.
For me, that landed me in the commercial corridor workshop. I learned how San Diego is using “Tastes of” neighborhoods to bring together diverse populations and celebrate cultures. I heard how, despite significant housing improvements in West Baltimore, attracting retails remains a challenge. And I listened as Matthew Thrall detailed the plans for the Fairmont / Indigo transit line in Boston that will hopefully revitalize portions of Boston’s low-income communities.
Building off the learnings from the workshop, the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development recently put together a brief “how-to” guide for upgrading you local commercial corridor.
Their five main tips:
- Build your team with clarity: the neighborhood residents and local merchants should share a common vision for what they want the corridor to look like. When businesses, residents or local nonprofits have diverging interests, each should find ways to support the others.
- Get the data—then use it: a market study for the corridor can identify unmet demand for goods and services; and identify the strongest business opportunities. Learning about the business climate and demographics helps determine what new businesses can be supported.
- Make quick, visible improvements: the simplest storefront and sidewalk improvements can spur additional business development and investment.
- Find a jumpstart project: sometimes the first step in revitalizing a commercial corridor is not through attracting a new retail company, but can be from building a community facility—such as a new YMCA. The effect is to drive foot traffic in the corridor that will then attract new businesses.
- Make friends in government: Funding for projects in low-income neighborhoods traditionally comes from the government; collaborating with governmental departments can result in partnerships where everyone has a stake in seeing a project succeed.
To read the entire article, as well as the examples associated with these tips, click here.
What do you think? Are there other strategies that you would advise community developers to use in order to revitalize their commercial corridors? What has worked in your city?
BY Amanda Maher on May 7th, 2012
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