Photo by Maddy Schier
Classic Towns News
Submitted by canary on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 11:51am.
Of Interest: Expert Panel Releases Report on Strengthening Retail in West Chester
Earlier this year, an expert panel of 14 professionals representing the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Assistance Program (TAP) went to the Borough of West Chester to make strategic recommendations to enhance its retail climate. The two-day TAP was jointly sponsored by the West Chester Business Improvement District (BID) and DVRPC’s Classic Towns program.
TAPs are a community outreach service offered by ULI to governments and nonprofits that bring together objective professionals to evaluate a community’s needs and provide planning and development advice. In the case of West Chester, the Business Improvement District wanted the panelists to address issues posed by the town’s recent growth. They looked at strengthening the downtown retail mix, identifying obstacles to good development, evaluating the appropriateness of retail chains, and suggesting best practices in parking management. The BID also requested that the panelists devote special attention to the First Block at the center of West Chester’s downtown.
Through walking tours, in-depth interviews of more than 50 local stakeholders, and focused roundtable discussions, panelists got to know West Chester and its challenges and potential. They recognized gaps and vacancies in the retail mix, a lack of high-end residential property downtown, a perceived conflict between new development and community character, and parking problems among other issues.
The panel then developed recommendations to resolve many of these issues and address Retail Marketing, First Block Development, Governance, parking, and wayfinding.