Downtown revitalization positive but not finished
KINGMAN – Downtown Kingman is undergoing a significant revitalization and promotion phase that citizens and entrepreneurs praise, but how is historic downtown Kingman viewed by visitors and businesses considering coming to town?
Mary Bosch, principal of Marketek, Inc., provided insight into that question at a small gathering of Kingmanites Wednesday night. She explained that a city’s downtown reflects the unique personality of the community.
“They want to see something different, they want to go to places that they don’t have in their own communities and have a little fun,” she said of visitors. “At a minimum, I’m going to say 70 percent of your traffic here downtown is locally generated. But a good chunk of it is also generated from the visitor sector.”
That visitor-traffic statistic, she said, is high for a small town like Kingman. Bosch continued by saying most small towns would be happy to generate 5 percent to 8 percent visitor traffic.
“You’ve got some true assets here,” she said. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity and benefit to your community.”
It’s not just visitors who look at downtown, as businesses consider a city’s downtown identity when deciding whether to set up shop.
“They want to see how healthy it is,” Bosch said. “It’s a reflection of how much you care, or not, about your community.”
She applauded Kingman Main Street for its efforts in promoting downtown development and said the nonprofit organization is doing well in addressing what’s necessary for development: how to get organized, how to market, promote and target customers, how to work with property and business owners, and working with target markets. Consideration of those elements helps to promote a pedestrian-oriented experience, which is important for downtown Kingman.
“We’ve heard nothing but positive, encouraging comments about the changes and transformation that downtown Kingman has experienced in the recent past,” Bosch said.
But she noted that “downtowns are never finished” and proceeded to tell the group about areas which are still in need of work and promotion. Bosch recommended that Kingman’s downtown businesses focus on cross-promotion to help keep people in the area.
“I want those 12 restaurants marketing in one place or at least advertising together,” she said. “I want those thrift stores and vintage shops and antique stores together on a simple piece of paper.”
Bosch also addressed the high curbs downtown, which she said does not contribute to a pedestrian experience.
“I would not do much investment at all in your streetscape until this has a plan,” she said.
Bosch counted about 10 vacancies downtown, which she said is an opportunity to make an impact on downtown’s mix of businesses. She also called downtown’s arts community an anchor.
“This is such a bright spot because this is truly a reflection of the creativity and the energy of your community,” she explained. “This factor of all of these factors will attract a younger generation to your downtown.”
When it comes to marketing, Bosch said Kingman must focus on promoting outdoor attractions in town and in surrounding areas, as well as its Route 66 heritage.
“Without Route 66, you do not have 35 percent international travelers coming here, you do not have 33 hotel properties, you do not have the number of successful restaurants and business that you do,” she said. “You have got to continue to reinvest in this as your most-significant anchor.”
Other areas that downtown Kingman should focus on: online image, social media presence, hotel marketing, signage updates, and a plan for what Bosch called nuisance properties that she saw on the way downtown.