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West Chester featured in report examining successful downtowns

Study looks at factors that determine economic success in greater Philadelphia’s suburban downtowns.

DVRPC Classic TownsNovember 30, 2013

Philadelphia PA -- Successful suburban downtowns in our region share seven key characteristics, according to a new study by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). The landmark study, "Revitalizing Suburban Downtown Retail Districts: Strategies and Best Practices," examines the common characteristics of thriving downtown retail districts.

Through the Strategies for Older Suburbs program, DVRPC analyzed 71 suburban downtown retail districts. Ten were then highlighted that best exemplify seven high priority characteristics. They are Bordentown City, Bryn Mawr, Collingswood, Doylestown Borough, Downingtown, Haddonfield, Kennett Square, Media, Princeton, and West Chester. The recommendations in the study were based on the success of these towns through retail district management. Communities like West Chester were deemed to be retail-appropriate and pedestrian-friendly with parking options and cultural programming.

In 2008, West Chester was selected to be among the first of the Classic Towns of Greater Philadelphia created by the DVRPC. 

The seven characteristics defined as high priority are:

  • The existence of a management entity
  • Wide sidewalks
  • High walkability
  • A low vacancy rate
  • Parking options
  • A civic or cultural anchor
  • High traffic counts

The report recommends that these elements be central to any downtown district strategy.

“The success of Greater Philadelphia’s suburban centers is essential to the growth of our region,” said Barry Seymour, Executive Director of DVRPC. “Looking at the best practices of our most livable communities is a valuable exercise for any neighborhood revitalization.”
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About the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is dedicated to uniting the region's elected officials, planning professionals and the public with the common vision of making a great region even greater. Shaping the way we live, work and play, DVRPC builds consensus on improving transportation, promoting smart growth, protecting the environment, and enhancing the economy. We serve a diverse region of nine counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania; and Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer in New Jersey. DVRPC is the official metropolitan planning organization for the Greater Philadelphia Region - leading the way to a better future. DVRPC fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes and regulations in all programs and activities.

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