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June 29, 2020

RESTART, RESET, RETOOL, REFILL: Considerations for downtowns, commercial corridors, and main streets

We are at the end of the beginning. There are going to be closures, vacancies, and job losses across communities. How long and how deep will be a function of how well the next three-to-six months are managed, how that impacts consumer confidence, and whether planners and development officials are ready to respond in meaningful ways. Moreover, the pandemic magnified and amplified glaring, pre-existing disparities in our civic and economic structure. How communities address vacancy, maintain a sense of vibrancy and ensure equitable action is at the heart of today’s challenges. As designers and economists who have worked in urban revitalization for the past 20 years, we propose a framework for downtowns and main streets to consider - RESTART, RESET, RETOOL, REFILL

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Reimagining the Civic Commons

December 15, 2016

Reimagining the Civic Commons

The strength and vibrancy of cities has always taken root in the public assets we share collectively as citizens. To build social capital, encourage civic engagement, and prosper, cities need common ground, spaces where citizens of all backgrounds can mix. Yet in the past century, support for public assets – our libraries, parks, recreation centers, pools, and schools - has declined. Assets and organizations that once defined our shared experience as citizens have, in many cases, suffered from decades of disinvestment and decline, decreasing our sense of trust, empathy, and connection to our neighbors, a trend that has come to epitomize our era. Reimagining the Civic Commons is a national effort initiative to demonstrate how public assets can once again drive prosperous, equitable, and connected communities. Working in Akron, Chicago, Detroit, and Memphis over the next three years, our charge is to help each community measure the social, economic, cultural, and environmental impact of their work. Building from our recent work on Philadelphia’s Rebuild initiative, we look forward to being partners in the work of the Civic Commons, developing new tools and methods for understanding the dynamics of public space, and discovering new ways of unlocking the potential of our common ground to revitalize communities. Reimagining the Civic Commons is made possible by the generous support of the JPB Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and local funders.

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