Recently, we visited Foley, Arkansas. While their downtown was small, it was very impressive.
I’ve been talking about walkability and green spaces, and I think that this shows that off extremely well.
Once you begin to strip away the external elements, you’re left with a narrow sidewalk and a building that is inherently plain. What makes this downtown pop is the combination of awings, window displays, and greenery.
The first eye-catching feature are the “bumpouts” located at each intersection. These provide a decent space for greenery, as well as separate the pedestrian flow from the parking areas. For pedestrian traffic, this also provides a safe place to cross.
Next was the greenery along the sidewalks; while mature trees dominate the bumpout areas, smaller ornamental trees help break up the feeling of being in a “concrete canyon”.
Finally, usage of awnings and well-kept store display windows completes the overall visual impact. Surprisingly, the condition of the sidewalks was not great, but with everything else going on, it was hardly noticeable.
Now, for a moment, imagine this area without the greenery, without the awnings, and with store windows covered in newspaper print.
A few small things can dramatically change the visual and economic impact of any downtown.