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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Encouraging Small Businesses

Vacant storefronts keep a healthy block from feeling complete. How to bring small, local business activity to these under-utilized commercial spaces?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUmSs72z2ZM

Even the most vibrant neighborhoods haven't emerged unscathed by the recession. Small commercial districts have suffered a loss of small businesses, and with them come vacant storefronts, which not only become targets for vandalism, but also keep a healthy block from feeling complete. As part of GOOD Ideas for Cities Dallas, the Elmwood Neighborhood Revitalization team tackled the challenge of bringing small, local business activity to these under-utilized commercial spaces in the community of Elmwood, in Dallas. After conducting research in the neighborhood, the team realized that myriad issues—from absentee owners to a lack of identity—contributed to the high vacancy rate, but the one way they could quickly improve the area was to increase the vibrancy on the street with unique, affordable-to-execute experiences.


Since graffiti cropped up naturally on these empty storefronts, the team proposed erecting large graffiti galleries throughout the neighborhood, giving local artists a place for self-expression, and turning the neighborhood into a street art destination. The team also proposed partnering local businesses with larger, national businesses to create pop-up and street-fair experiences with temporary retail. Finally, a series of pocket parks could help fill the gaps left by vacant properties and bring that sense of neighborhood pride that Elmwood needs.

Challenge: The neighborhood around Edgefield and Ferndale in Oak Cliff is a medium-sized, auto-based commercial district surrounded by single-family neighborhoods. The neighborhoods appear to be stable and well-maintained, but the commercial center includes many small, vacant spaces. How do improve use of this under-used commercial space?

Office of Economic Development, City of Dallas: Daniel Oney

Elmwood Neighborhood Revitalization: Mark Lea,Whitney Holden, Krystyna Morgan, Justin Tiros

Video by Madison Liane

GOOD Ideas for Cities pairs creative problem-solvers with real urban challenges proposed by civic leaders. To learn more visit good.is/ideasforcities. Watch more videos of recent GOOD Ideas for Cities events, and if you'd like to talk about bringing the program to your city or school, email alissa[at]goodinc[dot]com or follow us at @IdeasforCities

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