Curb Appeal...Why is it Necessary?

May 8, 2012

As you drive downtown today, you'll notice our horticulture staff (part of the Urban Management Department) out landscaping, planting, and ultimately working to make downtown more beautiful. Why do we do this? It's simple. Curb appeal attracts shoppers, businesses, and foot traffic. People do not generally gravitate to areas that are not well-maintained.

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Experts say that the economic benefits of green spaces are numerous. The planting of trees, shrubs, and plants reduces temperatures, significantly impacts the quality of air around them and actively reduces noise pollution. Green space, (i.e., plants and flowers), can improve property value. This has been well-documented in a number of studies and publications. Landscaping renews business districts...greening of business districts increases community pride and positive perception of an area, drawing customers to the businesses. Recent studies found that customers would be willing to pay, on average, a 12% premium for goods purchased in retail establishments that are accompanied by quality landscaping. Studies have also proven that greenery and flowers attract shoppers and residents to urban areas...spurring economic growth. Tourism is increased when locations are well-manicured and vital. Small businesses choosing a new location rank the amount of open space and proximity to parks and recreation as the number one priority in the selection. The Creekwalk and Creekwalk Garden have added much to downtown Prattville.

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To give a more practical example, one of the major reasons that Pratt Mill Partners, LLC cited for their interest in the gin property is that downtown is so well-maintained. "Landscaping is an important component to any retail corridor," said Burke Lambert, President and Owner of Longstreet Capital. "The first time I drove into downtown Prattville I was immediately impressed by how well maintained and attractive it is. Mayor Bill Gillespie, Ken Johnson, and their guys are doing a great job."

Curb appeal is vitally important to the health of our historic downtown. Urban Management has created a backdrop for photographers, professional and amateur alike, that has become instantly recognizable in the publications in the River Region.

"We've been here 8 or 9 years and many of my customers are not from Prattville so downtown is their first impression," stated Kim Box of Kim Box Photography. "When you're trying to determine the culture of a city, you look at downtown. It's our local flavor, where our unique shops and boutiques are located. I live and work downtown and I think that we must make that first good impression."

"Ambiance is everything," stated Stephen Brooks of Carol Brooks Home & Holiday Shoppe. "The aspects created by Ken Johnson and his staff provide a beautiful aesthetic. We get compliments from many of our customers about how beautiful and tranquil it is. We're 100% behind Ken Johnson and his crew."

hort05082012-1We have had inquiries in the past about the funding for landscaping. It's one of our favorite questions to answer because we get to brag on Horticulturist Ken Johnson, Assistant Horticulturists Matt Morgan and Deven Peek and the rest of the Urban Management Department. At the end of each summer, Urban Management removes all the plant material from the beds, parks, and planters. They take cuttings and grow new plant material in the greenhouse. They also grow from seed. The City's greenhouse produces 95-96% of all plant material needed to landscape the vast areas planted after CityFest each year. The value of the greenhouse's production is roughly $12,000 wholesale or $25,000 retail. The greenhouse is automated; water and heat are set to come on without needing staff to be physically present.

Urban Management spent $1,005 this year on plant material that is difficult to root. That's it...$1,005 for the entire season, for the entire list of properties. Those areas landscaped are:

  • City Hall
  • City Hall Annex
  • Cultural Arts
  • Downtown Main Street
  • Creekwalk Garden
  • The Creekwalk
  • Gazebo on the Creekwalk
  • Heritage Park
  • The City's Gateway signs (Welcome to Prattville)
  • Doster Community Center
  • Gillespie Senior Center
  • The entrance to Silver Hills
  • The entrance to Country Club Estates

Irrigation is in place in these areas so that watering happens automatically.

There is an item where the City has made cuts in landscaping. Everyone loves the hanging baskets throughout downtown. There were 66 of them and they were gorgeous. When tallying up the plant material, watering them everyday, the special time-release fertilizer, those hanging baskets cost $70 each. Urban Management lost their part-time staff last year. Those two positions watered the hanging baskets every single morning to make sure they remained alive and beautiful. We simply have not had the staff or budget to continue the baskets.

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This work is being done for your enjoyment and for the betterment of the City of Prattville. With that in mind, please take a moment to enjoy your surroundings when you're downtown or in one of the other areas that are currently being manicured and planted.

The City of Prattville is very proud of our Urban Management staff and how, every year, they make us beautiful on a shoestring budget.

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