Downtowns & Town Centers

Many cities and towns are seeking to revitalize or create a hub for their community. These articles and postings focus on the planning issues facing downtown & town center development.

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Illustration of the future "Village Street" in Storrs Center.

Building a New Downtown – Part II

In part II of this posting, we take a closer look at how the Town of Mansfield, Connecticut worked with UConn and and a private developer to move forward on its new downtown, Storrs Center. Including some tips from some of the project participants.

Demolition of strip shopping plaza at Storrs Center.

Building a New Downtown – Part I

It’s not every day that university and town perspectives on a key issue are closely aligned. But that’s the case in the small town of Storrs, Connecticut, where the University of Connecticut and the Town of Mansfield both agree that what they really want an need is a new downtown center.

Building along Memorial Drive in West Hartford's Blue Back Square

We Don’t Let Planning Get in the Way: Pt. II

How did Blue Back Square get developed? West Hartford Community Services Director Rob Rowlson takes us on a tour of the development, and explains why the Town’s developer-friendly approach led to positive results.

Brick pavers line sidewalks in West Hartford Center

We Don’t Let Planning Get in the Way: Pt. I

Rob Rowlson, the Town of West Hartford’s Director of Community Services, makes no bones about it: too often planning can be an obstacle to private investment and development. In Part I of this post, Rowlson talks about efforts to strengthen the core of the town’s downtown: West Hartford Center.

People enjoying new seating opportunities on Broadway in heart of Manhattan

Give My Regards to Broadway

One of the most remarkable sights in New York City these days is the transformation of Broadway in the Times Square district from a traffic-jammed artery to a car-free zone, where pedestrians reign. What’s behind this change?

Sitting on movable chairs

Please Be Seated!

We do it dozens of times a day. During nice weather, we often do it in the park. And we’re careful where we do it, often scouting out a location that seems just right for us to …. sit. But how much do planners and urban designers know about our backsides?

Libraries at the Heart of Our Communities

Libraries at the Heart of Our Communities

There’s been a dramatic change in the mission of a growing number of libraries across the country. No longer just static repositories of books and reference materials, libraries are increasingly serving as the hub of their communities, providing a broad range of services and activities.

Vacant downtown movie theater in Niles, Michigan, is slated for restoration.

A Main Street Succeeds in Tough Times

One small Michigan city is focusing its efforts on building a strong downtown. A look at some of the challenges and opportunities facing Niles, Michigan.