The financial crisis, among other things, will make large scale building and revitalization very difficult over the next few years, if not longer. That doesn’t mean that we should be passive in accepting it. We still need a thriving downtown and we still need people to start and grow local businesses.
Below is a picture of what has been done in La Spezia, Italy. On one of the main streets of the city, these insta-stores have sprouted up. There are at least 6, each selling something different, from books, to clothes, to kitchen wares. Simple to construct, cheap to operate, and providing small business a low overhead, these structures have added new life to the street.
In downtown Lexington, we’d have to find places where the sidewalk was wide enough – or, gasp, where we could close a lane of street to allow their installation. The goal would be to transition these businesses into storefronts once the business became more viable.
We need to get creative and try out non-conventional ideas. Otherwise, we’ll be at the mercy of global forces beyond our control.