A Birmingham Shopping District survey asks residents about their usage of downtown.

A Birmingham Shopping District survey asks residents about their usage of downtown.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

City seeks feedback on how community uses downtown

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 22, 2023


BIRMINGHAM — Residents, visitors and other members of the community are encouraged to share feedback on what they would like to see in downtown Birmingham.

Using the Birmingham Shopping District’s recent survey, community members can share the types of businesses, products and amenities they think downtown needs.

“We are trying to learn from residents, employees and visitors how they currently use the downtown,” Birmingham Shopping District Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius said.

This survey was posted around the end of July, and Sheppard-Decius said that within the first five days, over 150 people had filled out the survey.

“We want more because we want to make sure we have a good mix of people between residents, business owners and employees,” Sheppard-Decius said.

Michael McKenzie, BSD board member and chair of the Business Development Committee, helped put together the questions for the survey online.

“I think there are a lot of voices in the community that want to be heard, and we definitely welcome those voices,” McKenzie said.

The survey will be open until around the end of August.

“Our goal is to determine what types of businesses and/or amenities might be needed in order to improve the experience downtown,” Sheppard-Decius said. “In particular, it will inform our recruitment strategy and our capital improvement plan.”

This survey also includes feedback that could be helpful for businesses, such as the days of the week and times that people are most likely to visit downtown. The survey asks if restaurants and retail shops are typically open during respondents’ visits downtown.

McKenzie said they have gotten to review some of the feedback already, but they are still accepting more.

“From a dining perspective, I think people are looking for affordable, casual, healthy, family-friendly options to complement the existing portfolio of dining options that are downtown,”  McKenzie said.

While developing a strategy, the BSD plans to combine community feedback with what the market has the capacity to support.

“What we hope is we start to see patterns within the data that align with the things that we are already seeing, or might even alert us to something else that we have not thought of,” Sheppard-Decius said.

The survey can be accessed through engage.bhamgov.org or the landing page allinbirmingham.com/survey. If this is the first time someone is using Engage Birmingham, they will be asked to register.

Sheppard-Decius said the registration process is intended to be quick and easy for the community to access.