Have worked in and for DT Vanc since 1990, including as President of Vancouver Farmers' Market and as Downtown Vancouver Association staff for conversion of Main Street in Uptown Village to two-way traffic..
There's nothing wrong with downtown Vancouver that MORE RETAIL won't cure. Sorry, but better litter receptacles (!!!) won't cut it.
- Quit giving tax breaks to developers who promise mixed use but somehow never fill the retail spaces in their buildings with actual retail, not office uses. How about a sliding scale of decreasing tax breaks for unkept promises?
- Find ways to encourage Downtown property owners to rent to quality tenants, not just anybody with a month's rent in hand.
- No more pot shops/churches/social service providers, please.
- Activate the street. Do not charge extra fees for sidewalk seating/tables.
- What's happening with the vacant block at Main and 15th Street? A real blight on downtown -- IMO, is worse than Block 10 bec is ugly and isolated.
- Whatever happened to the Design Review Committee?
- Why are Main Street businesses in retail spaces allowed to keep the shades drawn on their storefronts? If you don't want to be visible to passers-by, move off Main Street. (That includes the VFD. Chief Molina: the shades on the windows all along the west side of the new Main/4th Plain station are always down. Why?)
- No back-in parking on Main Street.
- No pedestrian mall on Main Street -- other cities have tried it and found it doesn't work.
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Dave, I am not the author of the original post, but I can add some insight from personal experience re this issue. When I was living in Venice, California, we watched the 3rd St Promenade in Santa Monica get an upscale facelift that did indeed turn it into a thriving pedestrian retail area. The problem with this was, all the businesses on 2nd street were utterly starved out of business. The surrounding businesses were decimated. The rent prices on 3rd skyrocketed - between triple and 10x their original prices, so all of the small businesses were chased out and replaced by corporate restaurants and shops. To the casual observer, or tourist, this appeared to be a successful crowded retail area, but because I owned a small business a mile down the road, I saw it from the perspective of catastrophe for my fellow small business owners there. Did we really need to chase out the quirky small businesses and replace them with yet another Gap, Lush, AT&T, Sephora and chain restaurants? That's what it became. I would find it utterly sad if Main St was turned into this as well. Our local Mom & Pops are the charm and jewel of our downtown.
Please enlighten us. Share some of the names of these cities that have tried pedestrianized streets and failed (and then reintroduced cars and thrived???). Of the thousands of cities(too many to list here, an easy google) that have pedestrianized streets in retail areas, they all share thriving retail areas. All of the many I have visited have made the retail areas an absolute pleasure to visit, creating a real hub for their communities. You were happy to make the Farmers market a pedestrian only, car free zone!!
"Activate the street. Do not charge extra fees for sidewalk seating/tables. " I agree with this, (and everything else you said). Not only that, but until we can get rid of all the offices misusing our beautiful retail storefronts, I would go so far as suggesting that while those spaces are being wasted, let someone else use them. Allow licensed street vending to local artisans and popups during the warmer months, using uniform canopies like at the farmers market. At least it would improve the walkability of the area and make it far more engaging and interesting while providing income for smaller businesses.