15 Apr, 2021
To Recover from COVID-19, Downtowns Must Adapt
Brookings Institution
Loh, Tracy Hadden; Kim, Joanne
From the Webpage: "The COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic has magnified the many inequities between people and places in the United States, largely heaping health [hyperlink], social [hyperlink], and economic [hyperlink] harms on the most vulnerable and least able to bear it. As we contemplate the staggering [hyperlink] number of people lost to COVID-19, city-watchers are also starting to ask if we are going to lose some places as well. Across the U.S., the pandemic has left downtowns 'cratered,' [hyperlink] 'devastated,' [hyperlink] and 'abandoned.' [hyperlink] In downtown Washington, D.C., [hyperlink] for instance, daytime population plummeted 82% from February 2020 to February 2021, and only 9% of office space was occupied as of February 2021. If these daytime populations do not rebound to pre-pandemic levels, a cascade of impacts will be felt far beyond downtowns. Small businesses will lose their customer base and close [hyperlink]; transit systems will face unbearable budget gaps from absent farebox revenue [hyperlink]; and commercial real estate tax assessments will shrink, leaving jurisdictions with long-term revenue shortfalls. [hyperlink] To be sure, concern about vacant downtowns is a far cry from the tragedy of lost lives. Yet as we contemplate recovery from the pandemic, there is a real opportunity to connect the healing of people to the healing of places."

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