Main Street Promise: FAQs
The following are Frequently Asked Questions that have been asked as part of the City's Main Street Promise project:
Overall Project Questions
How is the project funded?
A variety of sources will be used to fund the Main Street project, including American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), City Transportation fund, Multi Family Tax Exemption Benefit Fund, and utility funding.
What work is being done on Main Street?
The project would create a new streetscape design that defines Lower Main Street between 5th Street and 15th Street as its own distinct commercial district, with its own set of finishes, street furnishings and pedestrian-oriented improvements. Water and sanitary sewer main lines and laterals will be replaced. Traffic signals will be improved, new streetlights will be installed, sidewalks will be replaced, and the street will be reconstructed and repaved.
Why is this project necessary?
Improvements will provide much needed repairs, maintenance and upgrades to the downtown street and utility infrastructure. Main Street has a high concentration of small, independent businesses that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19; this project will provide prevention and mitigation strategies for those impacts and increase capacity to weather financial hardship.
Where can I find the latest information about the project?
The latest project information and opportunities for engagement can be found at the City’s Be Heard page à www.beheardvancouver.org/MainStreetPromise
Where and how can I express my opinion and comments about the project?
A mix of in person and virtual events will be available throughout the course of the design phase of the project. Join upcoming open house events, attend a virtual Downtown Stakeholder meeting on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 1pm or contact the project team directly. Visit beheardvancouver.org/MainStreetPromise for more information.
Mid-day meetings are difficult for many business owners; will there be other opportunities to attend in-person or virtual events?
There are many opportunities to learn about the project, speak with project staff, and provide input. Join upcoming open house events, drop-in office hours at various locations throughout the project area, attend a virtual Downtown Stakeholder meeting on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 1pm or contact the project team directly. Visit the project web page at beheardvancouver.org/MainStreetPromise to see upcoming engagement opportunities.
How are you using Broadway Street project and other lessons learned for this new project?
The project team is being very intentional about bringing the community along from the onset of the project and throughout the design process, with a mix of virtual and in person opportunities for the public to ask questions and share feedback.
What are you doing to minimize impacts to businesses?
The project team is working closely with business owners to ensure timely information is being shared, access is maintained during construction and concerns are addressed in a timely manner. A strong partnership with Vancouver’s Downtown Association allows business owners to have an active voice throughout the lifetime of this project, with opportunities to influence design and construction plans.
Are you taking away parking on Main Street?
Our goal is to maintain existing parking capacity. Preliminary design concepts reconfigure angle parking on Main Street into parallel parking spaces. Our preliminary parking analysis has determined that the parking capacity of Main Street may not be negatively impacted. It’s still early, but the team is working hard to prevent a loss of parking capacity along the corridor and assessing opportunities to add new parking in areas where it does not currently exist. Your input will help inform parking capacity needs.
Why turn angle parking into parallel parking?
Parallel parking builds a balanced street for people and vehicles and contributes to an active people-friendly sidewalk. By converting angle parking to parallel parking, Main Street sidewalks can widen to support outdoor dining spaces, art, landscaping, and other elements. Parallel parking also provides better visibility of Main Street storefronts, which encourages patronage and increases safety.
Are there examples of other cities who have successfully completed similar projects?
Revitalization of Oregon City’s Main Street over the last decade is an example of a successful project with similar objectives. Investments in the streetscape have transformed the area into a popular destination for neighbors and visitors alike.
Will there be EV charging stations incorporated into the Main Street redesign?
The redesign process will consider whether EV charging stations are needed and can be integrated into the project design, whether along Main Street, affected side streets, and/or potentially in privately-owned parking areas that serve the Main Street district
Will there be any partnerships with private parking owners to help support business parking needs?
We are looking at all options to help with parking, including shuttle services.
Could one-way streets be a simple solution to help solve parking?
Traffic engineers have considered a one-way street in the past; however, the two-way Main Street configuration is preferred because of the value it brings to businesses.
Are side streets being considered for loading/unloading freight and for business deliveries?
The city is developing strategies for loading and unloading goods both along the corridor and on cross streets.
Will there be any facade improvements as part of this project? Does the City have plans to provide resources or financial support to improve buildings in the project area?
At this time, we do not have plans for façade or building improvements.
Have you considered businesses that receive freight on Main Street?
The city is developing strategies for loading and unloading goods both along the corridor and on cross streets.
What’s being done to make Main Street safer for families, visitors and businesses?
Improving safety and universal accessibility are key components of this project. Stay tuned!
Will you be inviting artist’s designs to the project? Are there plans to involve local artists? How will art be incorporated?
The design team will be reaching out to local artists to contribute to the project in a meaningful way. Please stay tuned for updates on how public art will enhance and create a downtown destination. Selection of public art will be coordinated with the city’s Arts and Culture Commission.
What’s being done to connect Main Street to the new Waterfront?
Building connections to and from Main Streets is a key component of this project.
What’s being done to make the appearance of Main Street look more uniform or consistent?
An Urban Design and Placemaking Strategy is being developed as part of this project. Stay tuned for more!
Will there be access for pedestrians/cars during construction?
Specific details will be confirmed as the design and construction plans are finalized. Emergency access will be maintained at all times. Reconstruction of sidewalks at doorways will require short closures while concrete is poured and cured.
What areas are included in the project and when will each area be under construction?
Construction areas will include the street and sidewalk (both sides) along the length of Main Street between 5th Street and 15th Street. Additionally, the following side streets will be resurfaced: Evergreen Boulevard from Washington to Main; 12th Street from Washington to Main, and 13th Street from Main to Broadway Street. It is anticipated that activity will proceed by type of work all along the length of the project, rather than focus on one block at a time.
What are the hours of construction?
Typical construction will be from 7:00 a.m. through 8:00 p.m. However, some underground utility work and primary intersection work may occur after hours and at night. Weekend work may be required pending weather restraints and to maintain schedule.
Will the street closures on Main be as extensive as the recent Broadway Street project?
Our goal is to minimize closures and impacts to business operations. Specific construction details will be determined as the design is finalized, with input from the community.
What is the City doing to help retain businesses and support commercial activity during the project?
The City of Vancouver is committed to:
A. Creating a New Online Main Street Map
- Collecting data that captures current Main Street businesses and using data to create a Main Street Business map and app to be shared on COV website and sent out via partner blasts, using multiple delivery channels
B. Providing Economic Assistance Programs
- Business License Fee Waiver program
- Personal Program Matching (ex: MESO, SBDC, Federal and WA State grant opportunities)
- Business assistance from the city’s service providers, such as the Hispanic Chamber
- Collaborative solutions for current Main Street parklet participants
- Pre-lease assistance for business expansion
C. Special Marketing during Construction
- Professionally designed marketing package that encourages community members to support local businesses during construction
- Offer businesses a Marketing Package (ex: 2 COV Facebook shout-outs, business owner videos, etc.)
- Offer business advertising and exposure on COV’s website
- Create business/shopping promotions to drive traffic (ex: hard hat specials)
D. Enhanced Communication
- Communication will be in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Russian and Vietnamese, and available in Braille. Communication opportunities will be offered in person, as well as online.
- Share regular project phases and project timelines, so that businesses are aware of key construction milestones
- Host stakeholder meetings in online; kick-off and informational meetings in person
- Co-host coffee chats
- Host open house events
- Provide all project information and updates on a single website (Be Heard)
- Offer printed and online surveys, asking business owners what they need; seek customer design and input ideas
- Create block chat groups and/or email groups
- Create Main Street chat group and/or email group(s)
- Include past business and property owners as Advisory Group members and add new group members to the new Advisory Group
- Share information via VDA newsletters
- Weekly email updates during project construction
- Engage frequently with block captains
E. Promoting Main Street on Social Media
- City social media shared on primary City social channels, with 20,308 Facebook followers, and 14,205 Instagram followers, in addition to 13,800 Twitter followers
- Work with partners and business associations for further communication pushes: Greater Vancouver Chamber, Uptown Business Association, Hazel Dell/Salmon Creek Business Association, East Vancouver Business Association, Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce, etc.
- Create social media posts and “shout outs” for Main Street businesses
- Create social media videos featuring Main Street businesses and/or business owners
- Create project expert videos, such as “Meet the Contractor”
Can the City compensate businesses for loss of revenue during the project?
Article 8, section 7 of the Washington State Constitution prohibits any local government entity from bestowing a gift or lending money, property, or the entity’s credit to a private party.
What is the VDA’s role in the project?
Business advocacy, one-on-one site visits to Main Street businesses, VDA Construction Coffee Q&A events, inform businesses on existing incentives, Partner with COV to develop technical assistance programs, Promote the project through VDA’s online channels (social, email), in addition to including Main Street businesses in below VDA Event Programming (to promote visitor traffic)
- First Friday
- Ribbon cuttings
- Walking tours
- Storefront Contests
- Public art
- Economic Restructuring programs