With the launch of On Avalon’s first pilot, small business tours introduced residents to local businesses and an installation of planters serves as a prompt to question the future of the boulevard.
On Avalon’s first pilot project was launched on Saturday, June 18. Despite the rainy weather and thunder throughout the morning, Saturday afternoon’s event continued on and attracted many interested Wilmington residents. Bright teal business markers lined the north and south ends of Avalon, coordinating with an installation of planters and seats located on the sidewalk in front of Wilmington City Hall. In collaboration with Clean Wilmington, who is sponsoring and maintaining the plantings, and the local businesses on Avalon Blvd., LA-Más was able to host a successful launch event alongside support from the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and Councilmember Buscaino’s office.
The pilot project itself consists of a temporary landscaping installation centered in front of Wilmington’s City Hall coupled with cultural programming taking the form of Avalon Blvd.’s first ever small business open house and Walking / Talking Tours led by Avalon Ambassadors. The tours highlighted five businesses along Avalon Blvd.: Santa Luna Restaurant, Vazquez Auto Repair, Home & Treasures Thrift Store, Design Upholstery, and Maya Restaurant. Each highlighted business generously provided refreshments and snacks, creating a friendly atmosphere allowing for thoughtful conversations. As the tour began, many Wilmington residents commented on the business markers and how marking the businesses in a similar style would help enliven the corridor. In addition, most shared anecdotes of experiences they have had in Wilmington, especially along Avalon Blvd, and the hopes they have for Wilmington’s future.
Participants Share Their Ideas
The event allowed for some fantastic feedback and suggestions for Avalon Boulevard. Overall, participants were eager to try a variety of tactics to make Avalon Blvd feel more like a “real downtown.” More lighting was one of the most popular suggestions – both for aesthetics and nighttime safety.
Many were also eager to see outdoor seating and shade at Avalon Blvd’s bus stops and restaurants. One remarked that Maya Restaurant and Santa Luna had plenty of “activity inside, but not out,” so people driving by might not know what great restaurants they were missing. Some suggested having local artists paint street furniture and walls to liven up the street and discourage graffiti.
Another lively area of discussion was around the empty storefronts and vacant lots. Tour participants hoped to attract more businesses such as coffeeshops, restaurants, and stores, and suggested that vacant lots could become parks and community gardens. Many also expressed the need for more secure and creative bike parking, like what they’d seen in Long Beach.
We also asked our two insightful Ambassadors what were their top three suggestions for improvements along the street: According to Osvaldo, bike and skateboard racks/parking, colored lights and more businesses are the ticket to a livelier Avalon. Somewhat similarly, Eric suggests skate shops, a community garden and more lighting to revitalize Avalon Boulevard.
With the support of local partners, LA-Más is currently working towards Pilot 2 which will launch in mid-August. The meaningful dialogue and participation by Wilmington residents at our launch event on Saturday allows for the ties between LA-Más and the Wilmington community to grow and work more effectively in an effort to lead the community to experience Avalon in a new way.
What do you think Avalon Boulevard needs? If you have comments and suggestions for our first pilot or future installations, stop by Wilmington City Hall between 9:00am and 5:00pm to provide comments via our comment tube!