Could we transform DTSF into Austin’s 6th street?

6th Street, DT Austin, TX

I have thought about this idea for awhile.

What would be the harm in experimenting with closing down Phillips Avenue between 10th & 11th and 11th & 12th (leave 11th street open for traffic) on Friday and Saturday nights after say 6 PM to 2 AM for the month of July. And allow open container (as long as it is plastic cups or aluminum cans or bottles). You could also setup picnic tables and bring in street vendors of all kinds (not just food or drink but artist booths also).

I think DTSF needs to turn it up a notch, and what’s the harm in experimenting with the idea?

Downtown businesses would have to be heavily involved and there would have to be strict cleanup guidelines by the DT businesses.


#1 Pathloss on 07.30.12 at 1:08 pm

Phillips was blocked before. It had to be reopened because businesses were dying and the 2 blocks became a ghost town.

#2 l3wis on 07.30.12 at 1:21 pm

PL, this would be temporary closures during certain times, not a mall.

#3 Craig on 07.30.12 at 1:43 pm

The problem is, this type of closure only helps the bars and restaurants. The mom & pop shops, toy store, clothing stores, art shops, trinket shops, jewelers etc would all suffer assuming their normal business hours include times past 6PM.

Sioux City’s 4th street is a good example of what can happen when you have a lot of different clubs and bars and eateries packed in a small area – it adds life to the street and makes it a destination. People come down and park and walk from place to place… but there has been this reluctance of DTSF to embrace the nightlife, so I don’t see this happening.

They do the “First Friday” thing and it does ok, but it isn’t like the streets are lined with people, so if they can’t really draw interest on one day a month, I’m not sure two days every weekend would be a great idea.

Plus, our downtown area includes a lot of loft apartments – how fair is it for those people to be forced to listen to drunks yelling and a band playing until 2:00am? There is a balance that DTSF has to find between the businesses and the residents, and it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

#4 Justin on 07.30.12 at 2:21 pm

I don’t think it will work.

Austin bills itself as the “live music capital of the world”.

Sioux Falls is not that.

#5 Scott on 07.30.12 at 2:34 pm

I thought we were trying to be the San Antonio of the north.

#6 cr on 07.30.12 at 3:24 pm

They did have Phillips Avenue closed between 10th and 12th last Saturday evening (28th). The entire area including the street was set up with tables/white linen etc….

What was going on?

It was very inconvenient (and annoying!!) for any traffic trying to move through downtown. Unless it is an event open to the public, I don’t think they have any business closing off the street!!!

#7 Alice15 on 07.30.12 at 3:32 pm

I love, love, love this idea, however; I don’t think the DT residents would enjoy it until 2am. With that said, it would be awesome to try and do a version of this and maybe do it every Saturday in July from 5-10pm? Block parties can be extremely successful and I have no doubt that people that love live music and DT would love this.

#8 Johnny Roastbeef on 07.30.12 at 3:32 pm

Stogeez Steak Out. Its a fundraiser for women enrolled in the Teddy Bear Den program.

Tickets were sold for the meal but anyone could stand around and watch the band.

#9 Pathloss on 07.30.12 at 6:17 pm

I like the Fremont Street Experience in DT Las Vegas NV. They have music at each corner & street entertainers. The overhead is a light show & zip line. It’d be good for winter months with 2 blocks covered.

#10 grudznick on 07.30.12 at 6:30 pm

Yes, make it like Fremont street.

#11 Joan on 07.30.12 at 8:29 pm

Actually from what I understand Yankton has beat us to being the SanAntonio of the north. They have a riverwalk all ready. I don’t know what all is on it, but it was mentioned a few weeks ago when KSFY broadcast live from Yankton.

#12 Tom H. on 07.30.12 at 9:17 pm

To make downtown successful, we need to stop subsidizing its suburban competition. Freeways, 6-lane roads, seas of parking and zoning laws all give the suburban parts of town a significant advantage over downtown. (Suburban subsidy in fact resembles, quite strongly, a Ponzi scheme, as the StrongTowns group has very clearly articulated.)

#13 l3wis on 07.30.12 at 9:36 pm

Yeah, I wasn’t thinking when I said 2 AM, I meant like 11 PM.

“I don’t think it will work.”

Yeah, this coming from the guy who thinks the EC is being built in the best spot.

#14 Scott on 07.30.12 at 9:48 pm

I believe our downtown is being handed all the advantages these days…with the exception being anything involving Sanford.

#15 l3wis on 07.30.12 at 10:04 pm

I think DT has been extremely busy during the week. I drove past at about 8:45 tonight and all the parking was packed and people were walking around. MONDAY NIGHT! As for the businesses that are not bars or restaurants, they should take advantage of a possible event like this. Instead of opening at 9 AM on Friday’s and Saturday’s, they should open later and stay open later. This resistance to change is lunacy. And like I said, this would be an experiment. If the SFPD feels like it was too much of a PITA or businesses didn’t see an uptick in business, then the experiment is over.

#16 Johnny Roastbeef on 07.30.12 at 10:35 pm

I think this could work. There are a few good food trucks around already that I would go eat at on a Friday or Saturday night if I could sit down to eat and grab a beer to go with it somewhere. Downtown is missing some of the food these venders could supply, pizza, ice cream, and bbq come to mind. Add some art and entertainment and you could get something going. Good idea.

#17 l3wis on 07.30.12 at 10:40 pm

JR is dead on. Why be a Negative Nancy until we try it?

#18 Bond Perilous on 07.30.12 at 11:50 pm

I like this idea L3wis! It certainly could work. I get a little tired of all the themed events (HHH & HSN, etc). DTSF doesn’t seem to realize they don’t always have to “package” downtown as a quaint site for the event du jour. Some people, like me, would prefer the extra space to people-watch without the shit-show of HHH or HSN. Phillips Avenue between 10th & 12th is a well-framed public space that can stand on its on merits in attracting people without all the BS that typically accompanies current events held there.

#19 Alice15 on 07.31.12 at 8:34 am

Actually – alot of these establishments already have live music on these nights – but I like the concept of closing a section to walk freely for a period of time. If you go to some bigger cities such as Kansas City – some of their establishments will have live music in the afternoon and people love it. Understandably – we have fallen into the rut of usually only being able to listen to live music in the evening – but I think you could find a following and additional business in the afternoon.

#20 cr on 07.31.12 at 9:05 am

Instead of closing off streets….

What about the 5++ million that we invested in the river greenway WITH amphitheater……move the live entertainment there!

I agree with Scott, there are many SF citizens who believe way too many tax dollars are being directed at the downtown area. Example: we are slated to invest a staggering 36 million dollars in the River Greenway while neighborhood parks sit “on hold” for years!! (example: Granite Valley Park which has taken 12!! years to develop!!)

#21 Alice15 on 07.31.12 at 9:46 am

The River Greenway will be fabulous as it continues to develop with shops, eateries, establishments, etc. Closing the street for 5 hours on a a Saturday in the summer for people to enjoy has nothing to do with what is being invested. I am thrilled we are beginning to see more than one option for our DT. That is called progress. Before I would complain about what is being invested in our DT when you will definitely see a ROI, I would be furious that we are investing the $$’s we are in an industrial park. After that move and what it will cost us in the end, I would never bitch about an investment in DT again.

#22 Sy on 07.31.12 at 10:37 am

@ cr, every city or town has nice parks.

Very few have a river winding through their core that dumps over their City’s namesake. In marketing, you go with what your strengths are if you want to draw visitors and get them to tell friends back home and/or return.

What a lot of people don’t get about our downtown is it is unique in how it draws people. If you are from Pukwana, our downtown feels a lot like a “big city” with bustle, noise and people you don’t see back home. If you are from a large urban place like the Cities, our downtown feels quaint, calm & clean. It also lacks most of the negative connotations and signs of urban decay that put both small town & big city types off.

That being said, blocking off Phillips for a month during “festival season” could be a really nice draw if done correctly. People who move downtown shouldn’t complain about the noise because for starters, the trains are the biggest noise problem and if they can handle a blaring horn at 3am should be able to deal with some music and traffic sounds at 11pm. Otherwise, don’t move down there.

Last point, if the tracks come’d have enough room to make a space for festivals, swap meets, craft fairs, etc…hell you could move the Fair down there and pay for the whole deal with selling the old Fairgrounds to Concrete Materials.

#23 Bond Perilous on 07.31.12 at 10:47 am

Well said Sy. I don’t think the Lyon family would allow the sale of the fairgrounds though.

#24 cr on 07.31.12 at 10:58 am

Alice and Sy, I understand from following southdacola that you are both big DT supporters.

I respect that. I also appreciate how downtown has been transformed by the Facade Easement Program and Sculpture Walk.

Having said that, I also believe that things have become “out of balance” with the amount of local tax dollars that are being spent in the DT area vs. outlying neighborhoods. If you are not aware of this on-going conversation, it might be beneficial to start visiting with SF taxpayer citizens who live in other areas of our community. The illustration that I used earlier of the Granite Valley Park being “on hold” for twelve years is only one example of our “out of balance” priorities!

#25 Detroit Lewis on 07.31.12 at 11:08 am

CR – I am not suggesting ANY taxdollars be spent on this experiment. This would be a responsibility of DTSF and it’s members. They would have to do the cleanup. The only thing the city would have to do is change a few rules to allow open container for that month.

#26 Detroit Lewis on 07.31.12 at 11:10 am

. . . and on that note, I do agree with one of your points, CR, I get so tired of the mindset that we have to millions of dollars in handouts to attract tourism DT. That is hogwash.

#27 Muqhtar on 07.31.12 at 11:27 am

I’ve noticed that the downtowns of other cities are more than just a grouping of bars and restaurants – they are lifestyle centers. They have a lot of stuff going on there. Businesses want to locate their offices in the downtown. The office workers go to happy hour after work. People live downtown. People with money and class live downtown or near downtown! Downtown has a culture to itself. Here? Downtown seems like a couple of blocks where there are a bunch of restaurants but that’s about it. There aren’t a ton of events. I can’t think of a worse use of urban planning than to put the EC way out in the middle of nowhere like it will be.

Every time I go downtown I feel like the experience is incomplete. Restaurants don’t serve very late. Some bars actually close before 2AM, I’ve never seen that anywhere else before. I don’t live THAT far away but if I’m going to go downtown and party it up I have to shell out $30 for a taxi. Or I suppose everyone else just drunk drives home (unfortunately). It is hard to find food after bar close without getting in my car and driving to one of the local greasy spoons or fast-food chains, why can’t there be a pizza place or a sub shop open?

People going downtown to get wasted aren’t going to also go shop at the knick-knack stores. They are there for two things only – to eat and to drink liquor. I guess where I come from the only thing in the entertainment districts IS entertainment – food and liquor, nobody trying to sell arts and crafts.

Maybe that flies in a small town. Sioux Falls struggles with what it wants to be – a small town or a growing city. I feel like it’s stuck in the middle and doesn’t want to move either way. I often use the time I got stuck behind a John Deere, a Mercedes and a Porsche going south on Minnesota Ave to describe this town

People who live downtown made that choice. You may gain convenience and an easy walk to bars and restaurants but part of the price of that is noise at night. If they can’t handle the noise of the neighborhood, well, I can assure you that South Dakota has lots of wide open space that is probably equally-priced and is much quieter.

#28 Alice15 on 07.31.12 at 2:01 pm

I am a DT supporter because a) I went to HS here and DT was basically unsafe after the hour of 6pm and I fully respect the efforts that have been made to change that. b) I have visited other cities that have allowed their core to die. Let me tell you, boarded up windows on shops and homes does nothing but demean the property value and the attitude of a city for EVERYONE when that takes place. And c) my husband and I can spend DT, we can spend time with our kids DT, I can spend time DT with my friends, etc. It has become a mecca for all ages and I applaud those improvements.

I now think about people that live in condos in their DT, and you’re right, if you choose to live DT, you have to expect and somewhat enjoy the hustle and bustle and noise that comes with that lifestyle. Just as we live by Sanford and the VA – we made a choice to listen to ambulance sirens and helicopters overhead quite a bit during the day AND night. As far as the trains – that would totally suck and if the city is dumb enough to turn down $35 million in economic development, at least create some quiet zones. That is absolutely ridiculous that we can’t get off our lazy arses and get that fixed like yesterday! That not only effects residents in the DT area, but every hotel guest.

#29 l3wis on 07.31.12 at 10:18 pm

I love living close to DT. Sure, I hear trains, airplanes and the copters from Avera, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I think it is pretty cool I can jump on my bike and be DT in about 3 minutes.

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