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Community: How Downtowns are Helping Businesses Reopen

Cities are having to adapt to the new COVID world meaning they can't go slow in changing how they cooperate with businesses in using public space in downtown areas. For instance, in Dallas, the city is making permanent its Parklet program to help businesses move their offerings outside. "That program allowed 19 establishments to transform street right-of-way into playful patios and was so successful that the city council voted to extend it last December." This was a quick response to helping businesses, but they didn't stop there...

What the COVID-19 experience offered was an excuse for the city to toss many of the normal rules of urban planning and street maintenance out the window. Everyone knew that the impact of the pandemic was going to be temporary, and so the city demonstrated a temporary willingness to go about things in a new way. Parklets weren’t the only idea for appropriating urban space dedicated to cars and turning it over to people. You may remember that early in the lockdown, people wanted to shut down a handful of streets in neighborhoods around the city to create new pedestrian zones. That idea was tossed following fears it would lead to congregating. But again, like parklets, the win was that the city was willing to go for it until neighbors pushed back.

Cities will continue to need to innovate in a quickly changing world, and at MKThink we love working with communities to think through and prototype these changes.

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