The city of Barstow, California, has hired an Oregon company to come up with a possible strategic plan to help revive its downtown and Route 66 corridor.
The Victorville Daily Press reported:
A Portland, Oregon, company called MIG was hired to help develop the plan, which is supposed to set a vision for growth and revitalization along the city’s historic Route 66 business corridor and within the downtown business and cultural district.
The plan includes goals, policies, action strategies, development standards and design guidelines with the goal of drawing more visitors to Barstow’s segment of Route 66. Last week MIG released a draft specific plan.
The plan addresses a lot of appearance issues and suggests adding more color to the area. Signs and lighting are also addressed.
The company even came up with specific recommendations for the existing businesses. Of course, these changes — such as a new paint job and new signs — need approval from the business owners and lots of their money.
The group also recommends more and better signage to downtown and Route 66 landmarks from Interstate 15. The draft also recommends bringing back neon signs to Route 66 and adding public art to improve businesses’ visibility.
I think the new signs from I-15 is the cheapest — CalTrans can share the cost — and probably most immediately beneficial move.
The article by the Daily Press describes how much Barstow is struggling, especially after the Great Recession began in 2008. But one of the biggest problems Barstow faces is it jumped on the bandwagon too late. The Route 66 Economic Impact Study came out more than four years ago; it’s not as if the Mother Road isn’t known as a viable economic strategy.
Barstow has to play catch-up. It can be done. Springfield, Missouri, has embraced Route 66 only in the past few years, and it has become a bigger deal with travelers — especially with the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival. But it’s not going to be easy.