Survey Shows Strong Downtown Economies

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Apr 11, 2002
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The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center found that retail sales in America’s Main Streets increased after the September 11th terrorist attacks. The seventh annual survey of economic trends in America’s older Main Street commercial districts also found that while the rate of new business start-ups appears to have slowed down, older commercial districts continue to experience significant economic growth.

“The state of Main Street is strong! While challenges always remain, people and businesses continue to discover and strengthen their historic main street districts. It does not happen overnight, but over the past 22 years, Main Street revitalization efforts have created 227,000 jobs and 56,000 businesses and have saved 89,000 historic buildings all across the country. It shows that preservation pays,” according to Kennedy Smith, director of the National Trust’s Main Street Center, at the 2002 Main Street Town Meeting.

Each year, the National Trust’s Main Street Center surveys approximately 1,400 communities actively involved in revitalizing their historic and older downtown and neighborhood commercial districts. More than 370 communities completed the March 2002 survey, representing 43 states and provinces in the United States and Canada. Communities ranged in size from 821 (Blanchardville, Wisconsin) to 1.2 million (San Diego).

Moderator Comment: Do you expect new urbanism to become
the trend in community development? How will it affect the way consumers shop
and retailers sell?

The new urbanism movement is growing in popularity across
America. Here are the principles of new urbanism as outlined on the newurbanism.org
website.



  1. WALKABILITY





    • Most things within a 10-minute walk of home and
      work




    • Pedestrian friendly street design (buildings close
      to street; porches, windows & doors; tree-lined streets; on street parking;
      hidden parking lots; garages in rear lane; narrow, slow speed streets)




    • Pedestrian streets free of cars in special cases





  2. CONNECTIVITY





    • Interconnected street grid network disperses traffic
      & eases walking




    • High quality pedestrian network and public realm
      makes walking pleasurable





  3. MIXED-USE & DIVERSITY





    • A mix of shops, offices, apartments, and homes
      on site. Mixed-use within neighborhoods, within blocks, and within buildings




    • Diversity of people – of ages, classes, cultures,
      and races





  4. MIXED HOUSING





    • A range of types, sizes and prices in closer proximity





  5. QUALITY ARCHITECTURE & URBAN DESIGN





    • Emphasis on beauty, aesthetics, human comfort,
      and creating a sense of place; Special placement of civic uses and sites
      within community. Human scale architecture & beautiful surroundings nourish
      the human spirit





  6. TRADITIONAL NEIGHBORHOOD STRUCTURE





    • Discernable center and edge




    • Public space at center




    • Importance of quality public realm; public open
      space designed as civic art




    • Contains a range of uses and densities within 10-minute
      walk




    • Transect planning: Highest densities at town center;
      progressively less dense towards the edge. This urban-to-rural transect
      hierarchy has appropriate building and street types for each area along
      the continuum.





  7. INCREASED DENSITY





    • More buildings, residences, shops, and services
      closer together for ease of walking, and to enable a more efficient use
      of services and resources




    • New Urbanism design principles are applied at the
      full range of densities from small towns, to large cities





  8. SMART TRANSPORTATION





    • A network of high-quality trains connecting cities
      and towns together




    • Pedestrian-friendly design that encourages a greater
      use of bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, and walking as daily transportation





  9. SUSTAINABILITY





    • Minimal environmental impact of development and
      its operations




    • Eco-friendly technologies, respect for ecology
      and value of natural systems




    • Less use of finite fuels




    • More local production




    • More walking, less driving





  10. QUALITY OF LIFE




Taken together these all add up to a high quality of
life well worth living. [George
Anderson – Moderator
]


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