It’s no secret that downtowns across the country had setbacks throughout the pandemic. And, the convenience of ordering online has cut deep into retail businesses’ bottom line.
In response, the Longmont Downtown Development Authority (LDDA) has partnered with CU Boulder’s Community Engagement, Design and Research Center (CEDaR) to develop a comprehensive survey that will help the LDDA /Longmont Creative District cater more effectively to the needs of its visitors, residents and businesses.
“The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have touched everyone,” said Kimberlee Mckee, executive director at Longmont Downtown Development Authority. “As the community recovers from a period of uncertainty, it’s imperative that the people of Longmont share what they want to see downtown in the future.”
The survey covers a variety of topics, including preferences for shopping and dining, participation in downtown events and recommendations for downtown improvements. The LDDA plans to use the information to design programs and set priorities for the downtown area.
Researchers from CEDaR, which is housed in the university’s Program in Environmental Design, are studying how to make main streets and downtowns more resilient in the face of stresses, such as the pandemic, and opportunities such as growth of creative industries, says Brian Muller, CEDaR director and an associate professor of sustainable planning & urban design.
“CEDaR creates an environment for CU Boulder students and faculty to take part in community projects,” Muller says. “These experiences have helped students learn about the problems faced by local communities, such as Longmont, and provided training in community design skills and management of real projects.”
For the Longmont survey, student interns helped conceptualize and design the survey; developed an outreach program to raise community awareness of the survey; and will collaborate on the analysis. Through their environmental design classes, students also conducted preliminary interviews.
Over the last three years, at least 60 students have been involved in Longmont projects, Muller says. The center worked with the LDDA previously, both on the St. Stephens Plaza Redevelopment project during the spring 2020 semester and the Longmont Downtown Revitalization Project during summer 2019.
Anyone living in or around Longmont and visitors to the city are invited to participate in the survey. Three participants of the survey will have the opportunity to win a Downtown Longmont Gift Card. The survey lasts five to 10 minutes and can be taken on any mobile or tablet device with connection to the internet, accessed via a link or a QR code. It’s available in English and Spanish through the end of December 2021.