Retail Revitalization & Downtown Management
This plan recognizes that the suburban mall possesses many advantages over a downtown area. This plan recognizes that a downtown cannot compete in the same market with a suburban mall. A downtown must develop its own unique and specialized image and it must market that image to specific niches in the overall market with a focus on customer service, product knowledge and quality merchandise.
Therefore, this plan strongly advocates that a market analysis be undertaken by a nationally recognized marketing firm in order to identify the existing and new markets.
The plan cannot overemphasize the need for a detailed market analysis of the downtown. After reviewing all relevant demographic and economic information for the downtown’s market area, the analysis will identify downtown’s economic niche and recommend the proper retail mix, various merchandising and promotion techniques, and a strategy aimed at recruiting new businesses to the downtown.
Funding for this study should come from the city’s Economic Development fund with possible assistance from the private sector. The pursuit of funding for this market analysis must by the first step in the implementation of this plan. Based on this market analysis and in concert with existing merchants, a detailed promotion and economic restructuring strategy can be developed.
In developing this strategy, the plan recognizes, first and foremost, the need to work with existing merchants and businesses. Stabilization and strengthening of the existing retail base is bound to attract new investment and new businesses. In order to accomplish this stabilization and strengthening, this plan feels modifications of current business practices will need to occur.
The modifications will be in terms of merchandising, promotion, retail store mix, retail recruitment, retail building improvement and finally overall and well-coordinated downtown management. This would include a Special Services District to generate necessary revenue to continue the duties of a full time Downtown Manager.
It is recommended that a special services district be established to provide the sustained organizational focus and resources that downtown revitalization demands. The district should encompass all of the study area, with the exception of the two primarily residential districts. An organizational focus for Downtown revitalization is crucial to the success of the plan and must be pursued immediately. The Downtown Manager’s Advisory Board and the Downtown Manager should take the responsibility to organize and promote the creation of the special services district.