In a recent webinar called 'Using Economic Development Funds to Create Incentives for Healthy Retail,' five speakers detailed how programs to beautify streetscapes, improve neighborhood retail climates and bring fresh food to urban stores paid off for store owners and community residents alike.
Hosted by Public Health Law & Policy , a project of the Public Health Institute based in Oakland, the webinar attracted more than 150 participants for presentations on four major projects summarized below.
Brooklyn's Storefront Facelift
In the Myrtle Avenue project in Brooklyn, New York, () organizers worked with local economic development agencies to influence small retailers along 20 city blocks to beautify the street and develop a focused economic development strategy. Jennifer Stokes and Sarah Farwell described a 'holistic approach' including graffiti removal, substituting see-through security gates for solid gates, additional lighting and upgraded store fronts. Before and after images from their Storefront Improvement Grants showed that an investment of less than $20,000 could make a huge difference in the appearance of the street and the sense of vibrancy and safety of the neighborhood. Surveys indicated what types of new businesses to recruit, such as a gym or bakery, to attract more people to the business district and improve sales for all.
San Jose Spruces Up Grocery Stores
In San Jose, California, Richard Keit, Director of Neighborhood and Business Development with the San Jose Redevelopment Agency (www.sjredevelopment.org), reported that they take a great interest in grocery stores. Their well-funded program includes: façade improvements using a menu of architect-developed design schemes, project management, tree planting, lighting and banners. Participating grocery stores have seen great increases in business when they update and open up their building façades, add plantings and remove or diminish the appearance of security bars. Sales tax revenue data also shows steady increase of business.
Thanks to ASHLEY DEFOREST