Park City business group drafts months-long plan to reignite Main Street
The group that represents the interests of businesses in the Main Street core has drafted a plan to guide the recovery from the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus, outlining a months-long blueprint designed to reignite the shopping, dining and entertainment strip after what has been a deep downturn on the street.
The Historic Park City Alliance distributed the plan as an important Tuesday meeting of the organization approached. The plan is broken into urgent, stabilization and recovery phases and lists a series of steps for each of the phases. The district is currently in the urgent phase, calling for innovative ways to conduct business and ensuring safety measures are incorporated into public-relations efforts. The urgent phase is expected to last for up to 12 weeks dating to mid-March.
The stabilization phase is projected to last between 10 weeks and 14 weeks, starting once health officials lift the stay-at-home order. The phase is perhaps the most crucial of the three as it is the period when Main Street would effectively reopen for business. It will be a critical step that will have broad ramifications as there will be a better understanding at that point whether the impacts of the illness on business will extend into the summer.
The Historic Park City Alliance in the stabilization phase wants to attract more pedestrians to Main Street with messages promoting locally owned businesses and small businesses. The organization wants to launch a marketing campaign, including noting the sanitization practices.
The stabilization phase steps include coordinating three days a week that businesses with the ability to operate are open. The plan calls the three days “Vibrancy Days.” It also calls for installing more sanitization stations, encouraging flower planting by businesses and increasing the number of restroom signs.
The Historic Park City Alliance wants City Hall to eliminate parking charges as part of the stabilization phase, saying in the plan “customer traffic to Main Street will be reduced and many shoppers will be budget conscious.”
The recovery phase, with a timeline of between eight weeks and 10 weeks, is designed to stress the importance of small businesses with continued marketing. The target audience includes the Park City area, the Wasatch Front, people who own vacation homes in Park City and markets within driving distance. The recovery phase blueprint includes more “Vibrancy Days” and a focus on promoting businesses rather than special events.
The idea to promote businesses rather than special events is an intriguing inclusion for a commercial district that is typically seen as benefiting greatly from the large event crowds. The plan offers an explanation indicating it wants events scheduled annually to take place if possible.
“However, the HPCA is not supportive of adding additional events to the calendar. Many events include third party vendors selling wares and food. The HPCA would like all efforts to be placed on utilization of existing businesses to provide services for special events,” the plan says.
The overall timeline is based on the governor’s plan for recovery in the state.
Alison Kuhlow, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance and the primary author of the plan, said in an interview the stabilization phase will be the “hardest phase.”
“We’re restarting something we’ve never stopped before,” Kuhlow said.
The “Vibrancy Days” outlined in the plan were crafted under the assumption that many businesses will not be open seven days a week at the start. The “Vibrancy Days” are seen as days that customers will understand that businesses will be open, she said.
“We’d hate to invite people to the street and have the majority of stores closed,” she said.
The “Vibrancy Days” have not been decided, but Kuhlow said they could possibly be Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays or Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The shutdown of business as a result of the spread of the novel coronavirus occurred toward the end of the ski season and after most of the season’s sales had already been put on the books. The timing of the shutdown was seen as fortuitous since it was so late in the ski season and as the shoulder season neared.
There is concern, though, about the impact on business stretching into the summer-tourism season, which starts in earnest around Independence Day. The Tour of Utah bicycling race has been canceled, an early sign the impacts on summer tourism could be significant.
Kuhlow said the timing of the plan for Main Street is important as businesses attempt to position themselves for the summer.
“We want to be first out in the marketplace with a message,” she said, adding, “That we’re open for business, that safety precautions are being taken. Please come visit.”
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