The article starts with the following quote that is very applicable to Fort Thomas:
"research shows that a healthy and vibrant downtown boosts the economic health and quality of life in a community. Specifically, it creates jobs, incubates small businesses, reduces sprawl, protects property values, and increases the community’s options for goods and services. A healthy downtown is a symbol of community pride and history."
For purposes of analysis as it relates to Fort Thomas I will focus my thoughts on the Midway district but a similar analysis could be interesting in regards to the central business district and Inverness. The report mentions a few strategies that appear to be successful across a wide array of communities and studies including:
- Aim for a multi-functional downtown - The Midway borders some great assets including Tower Park and the closed to the public reservoir. I think a vision for Midway should include these assets if we are going to make the area successful. In the history of the Midway district it was the Army base that is now our public park that provided a market for retail to begin with. Rather than focusing just on facades or parking we need to pay attention to how the community uses the assets around the retail district and how all assets work together.
- Create partnerships - the report says "Downtown revitalization encompasses a wide range of activities. Therefore, it requires the cooperation of local government, chambers of commerce, the private sectors, civic organizations, and other key institutions." While I have not researched the issue I wonder if the city would be able to work with the water district to still allow walkers, runners, & roller-bladers to enjoy the walkway around the reservoirs. That is just one example where cooperation with other area agencies could allow the Midway to be more than what we currently have on the drawing board.
- Focus on developing the unique qualities of downtown - the work of the Renaissance Board has definitely been a big help in preserving the architecture and character of the district and the current plan by council to improve the streetscape including burying the utilities and improving the sidewalks will go a long way towards success in this area.
- Maintain and develop genuine public spaces - this is one area that I think we have fallen far short on in the Midway. The article lists wide sidewalks as an option and I think this is key for outdoor seating and subsequently for attracting additional restaurants. For anyone that has visited Europe a great feature in many public parks are park tables with chess boards built into them -this is the type of concept that I think would go over great being so close to the VA Hospital and Tower Park.
- Get local governments involved - this point focuses on the council's role in making a favorable environment for a renewed community. This includes zoning and support with historical designation.