The COVID-19 Pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on local economies around the world. The spread of the virus, mandated closing of businesses, and continued need for social distancing has created extreme stresses on small businesses. In Huntingburg, Indiana, population 6500, Fourth Street is the community’s downtown commercial district. In mid-March, nearly all of the 35 businesses on Fourth Street were required by the State of Indiana to close or greatly limit their business capacity. The Fourth Street Resiliency Plan- A Look at How to Keep Fourth Street Healthy, Safe and Open for Business was a week-long virtual charrette study. The intent was to provide decision makers with the resources necessary to make quick decisions and implement an expedited reopening plan for June 5-July 5, 2020. Six different scenarios were developed for quickly transforming the street. Each scenario explored different layout options and durations, and each was analyzed in terms of its costs, business impact, health impact, and political impact. Anticipated business impacts were calculated and a comparison of the costs to implement versus the projected business impact resulted in a cost-to-benefit index and the potential expected revenue generated for this action. A risk comparison was included that identified the level of risk from the health perspective, business impact perspective, and political perspective.
The study creates a case precedent for how communities across Indiana can evaluate the ability of their outdoor spaces to contribute to local economic stimulus and recovery. The project was recognized with a 2020 Merit Award from the Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects in the Planning & Analysis Category.
City of Huntingburg