April 6, 2018

Alleys are often an underutilized asset in downtowns. Investing in alleys contributes to the quality of public space, increased walkability, health and image of the city, a safer environment for people, opportunities for pop up shops and micro businesses and a canvas for public art.

Here's five resources on economic development and alleyways.


5 on Friday -Aileen Murray on Vimeo.


5 economic development resources on revitalizing alleys

The Belt – This alley in downtown Detroit was named for its location in a former downtown garment district. The Belt features murals and installations by local, national and international artists. It comes alive at night with a series of pop up bars in restaurants in a rejuvenated downtown Detroit.   https://www.thebelt.org/

Seattle Integrated Alley Handbook (2011)   This study determined that 85% of Seattle’s alleyways were underused and considered as the backside of the city. Through this plan they could increase Seattle’s public space by 50%. The study says that the revitalization of Seattle’s alleys is the greatest opportunity to integrate exciting, green and health public space into the city and change the experience of the city.  https://issuu.com/seattlealleyhandbook/docs/activating_alleys_for_a_lively_city

A guide to value added alleys for small towns and cities – This article from the University of North Carolina Community and economic development program sets out three steps in developing a strategy for alley revitalization 1) study the ownership 2) activate the area with special events and programs 3) establish a holistic plan considering existing retail and restaurant spaces, pedestrian networks, art culture and stormwater management systems.

Alley-Oop  - is an award winning project by the Downtown Vancouver BIA. The goal of the project was to animate this area in the downtown business core. The BIA painted the street, the walls and dumpsters bright pink, purple and yellow, incorporated a basketball hoop and encouraged businesses backing on to the alleyway to set up patio areas.

The Laneway Project -This website offers up how-to guides on adding a laneway mural, throwing a laneway event, greening the laneway and naming the laneway. Check out this site for examples of successful programs around the globe and a long list of benefits from laneway improvements.