City council and economic development authority brainstorm ways to improve downtown

The city council and the economic development authority held a joint work session on Monday afternoon to address improving downtown.

“Williamsburg is in a position of strength,” said Peter Angelides, the head of Econsult Solutions. “You’re doing well, you have a vibrant downtown. But the question is how can you improve it?”

Econsult Solutions along with Group Melvin Design and The Riddle Company presented to the city council and economic development authority during the work session.

Catherine Timko, founder of the Riddle Company, said more retail apparel and diverse food options were a need for the city based on her company’s surveys.

The city ranked poorly in men’s, women's and children’s apparel and sporting goods options. The city ranked high in fine dining and specialty food options.

The study also found that “downtown is safe and charming, but not as connected as it could be and dominated by students and tourists.”

The firms proposed making downtown more walkable with more sidewalks and bike trails.

Some of the others challenges the city will have to overcome include limited retail and food offerings and hours, and the amount of students and tourists, according to the study.

Timko said popup retail shops and food trucks are the way of the future and could improve the city’s downtown landscape.

“There’s a place in every market for food trucks,” Timko said. “Creating entertainment is where the trend is going. You have to keep the consumer’s attention.”

Timko also said her study found that residents and students would like to have a place to listen to music, go to drink and that’s open late.

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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