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realistic suggestions for downtown improvement


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I was talking with a very nice lady who is with the Hartford Business Improvement District (HBID), hartfordbid.com, HBID with a very small budget tries to do little things to improve the downtown district. For example, 300 planter pots are put in various downtown location, daily street sweeping and etc. She and I talked about ways to encourage the weekday office workers to get out of their cubicles. She mentioned having street performers in different locations which I think is a great idea. In front of old state house is an obvious location, I think in front of H21/civic center is another good spot. She also mention closing Pratt Street to car traffic during noon time. I suggested doing spring and fall outdoor art and craft shows and do Taste of Hartford in Hartford allowing only Hartford merchants. If you guys can think of ways to make downtown area more interesting please post and discuss and drop her an e-mail at [email protected]. Once again, small budget, realistic suggestions. No put Perez in jail, build 2000 apartments in downtown, build a university, kick out all surface parking lot operators and have a few major corporations move their entire worldwide operations to Hartford then we will be all set kind of wishful dreaming.

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Street performers is perfect. They generally work for tips, so overhead is minimal, if anythign at all, and every major city has them. The fact that Hartford has so few is a mark against us, they should come out on their won...

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ok, so this is something that I have chattered about before and well even called staqte city and private entities about.

I hope your BID contact is a self starter. I spoke with someone at BID a year ago.

anyhoo here are several randomish thoughts

any event that brings people downtown on the weekends is a winnging plan, but doing some kind of teaser downtown on Friday at lunch would be brilliant.

say we have a convention in town for model trains (sound familiar) how about the convention center put some kind of display on the lawn at the statehouse. people walking to lunch notice tents and walk close enough by to snoop them out. if I wsaw a guy bputting together a train set I would be curious and may think to go to the convention center on Saturday.

its al about awareness.

park a race boat on a trailor there if boat races come to town, park an RV on the plaza or a couple cars if there is a car show.

basicly the convention center should always have a tent at the statehouse showcasing whats on tap that week.

The chamber of commerce should have a space as well. this space would be advertizing whatever else is happening around town. for example I missed black eyed and blues this year because I never saw anything about it. no banner above colombus, nothing on the UConn tiker, nothing.

I was pissed to miss black eyed and blues.

every event like that needs to be embraced by the city and adevertised through alternatge chanels.

Uconn tiker, booth at the old state house, getting the major office buildings to send out notices from building management (i get them sometimes froim state house square but they only announce blood drives, new retail locations(DD, Moe) etc. building owners should want the city to be attractive to the workers, so letting people know whats happening downtown is a brilliant idea. just have BID write the list and have building management send out the mails, or BID can.

Create events like pipes in the valley or black eyed and blues. tere are events out there that just need to be boosted moved to the riverwalk and made more public.

EVERY summer weekend should have 1-2 downtown events.

5k race on the streets? sure!!! why not a 10k to boot?

free concert in the park

something like pipes, or dragonboat at the riverfront

It is not a stretch to have an event on the riverfront as well as one in bushnell park.

sure, the civic center and meadows can also run events, but these smaller events make the city livable.

Taste of Hartford NEEDS to come back and take place on the plaza/riverfront/convention center.

This could be one of the areas biggest events if done as a festival just a lame ass price fix promotion.

Bring the beer fest back to the old state house. do it every weekend that there is nothing happening down there.

its on a Thursday now... lame!!! heck alternate it with a wine festival. these things break even or even make money.

steal the folk festival back from manchester cc

honestly I think there is even room to promote other stuff.

the elizabeth park rose garden just had a big anual event. if they had a tent at the old statehouse on thursday and friday with rose clippings a few handouts and their summer schedule dont you think they would get more attendance?

how a bout mark twain house puts a tent up or the ct historical society offers geneology info at the state house on a few weekdays

trust me downtown is NOT THAT BIG. people hear and see things.

M&M gave away icecream one day near the park, and my whole office new about it within 20 minutes. thats 3-4 blocks away.

we watched the kidnaping investigation out our windows the other day.

the state house square plaza needs literally 10 times as much action as it currently gets. the old state house should open its lawns to so much more than it does. between the plaza and the old post office park, there is plenty of space to really let the whole community know whats going on.

I seem to tell half of my co-workers about something going on every week, so there should be a better system than counting on commun ity boosters like me.

I have tons more to write but I am at the inlaws

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There are so many things that could be done for little or no cost.

Pretty much every high school in the state has some kind of jazz ensemble, how about getting them to play in State House Square at lunch time. I'm sure they would love the exposure and play for free.

The beerfest is always a great time. At $35 a ticket and with the companies providing free beer, it couldn't have cost that much to put on.

Like VOR said, some kind of centrally located bulletin board letting people know about the events already going on. (Why not use the dilapidated kiosk that is already there on Central Row?)

How about putting speakers on the Riverfront Plaza and preview the upcoming act at the Meadows?

How about more sidewalk seating outside Starbucks or some of the other popular cafes and eateries?

I actually don't think getting the cubicles workers outside is that much of a problem. Things are always pretty mobbed on nice days. The bigger challenge is getting them to stay at the end of the work day.

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so here is some more blathering from me.

I will make the assumption that getting people out of the cubes is kind of code for spending money downtown.I mean it looks good to have crowded sidewalks and all, but if literally all 70k office workers just went out walking the streets every day, the city would be no better off than it is today.

So creating an environment that helps money stay in downtown is really the goal here.

The planters, the security patrolls, the clean sidewalks have been an exceptional improvement in my opinion, so without say hiring 250 more police or anything like that, I think it now comes to entertaining the people, or drawing people downtown.

regarding the day time workers, I think you have a few issues here.

1: some people buy lunch some dont.

I rarely buy lunch as much for financial reasons as for eating healthy. Those that do buy lunch typically are going to do so weather something is going on or not. I mean its food, so you either eat or starve.

2: people rarely get time away from their desks.

I work 10 hour days and some times do not leave my desk for more than 15 minutes all day.

I think having street entertainers would be pretty cool, but you will not likely draw people out, you will just entertain those that are out allready.

3: Errands are the only other thing that gets people out of the office right now. The downtown Post office is ALWAYS slammed, the banks are regularly a reason to leave the office, and then there are the other random things like a hircut or shoe shine or maybe ketting a key made.

When I go to the post office and then the bank, I occasionally stop somewhere else and spend a few bucks. This is the kind of thing we need to increase in this city.

so how do you get more people out on the streets to do errands? Convenient services is one key element. I know its not relevent to this subject, but if every regional bank had a downtown branch I bet more people would be out and about at random times. and there would also be a small increase in the random side errands as well.

as far as I know we do not have a Rockville Bank, a Farmington Savings bank, New Alliance Branch or a Liberty Bank. All 4 of these companies have 20 or more branches in Greater Hartford, but not one downtown. I know, nothing we can do about that, but I suspect that this will slowly change as downtown continues to revitalize.

Getting people to linger after work has a higher up side than snagging a larger lunch crowd. I think it is also more within the ability of BID, or even the concept of this thread to come up with events that draw or keep people downtown due to cost and scale.

Weekends also have a huge upside.

I am going to put together a proper list of ideas in word, and tack it on here later.

I am going to focus on after work and weekends.

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