As part of our ongoing work with the Built Environment Team at Blue Zones, LLC, we recently visited the City of Coachella as part of the Community Assessment being done in Riverside County. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of placemaking projects being implemented Downtown (Pueblo Viejo) and the multimodal improvements along the 6th Street corridor. Watching the successful execution of these improvements got me thinking about the value of overall beautification projects and their positive impact in downtown districts.
Placemaking has emerged as an effective economic development strategy for downtowns, as it focuses on creating public spaces that add value and increase the sense of place. But what exactly are some key characteristics that contribute to the successful transformation of these places?
What are some of these key characteristics?
Increased Walkability: One of the biggest advantages of placemaking projects is that they can increase foot traffic. By creating public spaces that are attractive and functional, people are more likely to visit and spend time in these areas, which become a community asset, and are likely to drive economic growth by increasing sales for local businesses.
Renewed Appeal & Desirability: Placemaking projects can serve as a catalyst for attracting investment. By improving the quality of public spaces and creating a safer, more attractive and livable environment, placemaking can make downtown areas more desirable places to live, work, and do business. All these can encourage investment and development, and also help revitalize and rejuvenate struggling downtown areas.
Quality of Life: Placemaking investments have a positive impact on the quality of life for residents in downtown areas. By fostering community spaces that are inviting, add character, and promote social interaction, placemaking can help nurture a sense of community and improve the overall quality of life for residents.
Community Engagement: Placemaking projects should also encourage community engagement and participation to promote an equitable approach. By engaging with residents, businesses, and community organizations through the design and implementation process, planners can ensure that the needs and desires of the local community are reflected as projects get built, which will help foster a stronger sense of community ownership and pride among residents.