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Extended sidewalks designed to bring business downtown

Update: 3:07 pm, 6/18/14, Wednesday URBANA -- "Curbanas" are now being installed downtown.
Update: 3:07 pm, 6/18/14, Wednesday
URBANA -- "Curbanas" are now being installed downtown. They're in two areas; the sidewalk in front of Crane Alley and another in front of Cafeteria and Company. The idea is to add outdoor seating areas. The temporary sidewalk extensions fit in parallel parking spaces.

City leaders hope it will boost the economy, but one business owner says fewer parking spaces for customers will have the opposite effect. The "curbanas" will only be set up through October. Money from a downtown development fund is paying for them.
Original: 10:22 pm, 3/10/14, Monday
URBANA -- City leaders have an idea to lure more people downtown. WCIA-3's Gary Brode finds out what the city is proposing.

Leaders want to add "curbanas" to two areas; the sidewalk in front of Crane Alley and another in front of Cafeteria & Company. It will add about 6' to where the curb is now. Business owners and city officials believe it could be the economic shot in the arm the city is looking for.

Pizza-M owner, Matthew Kitzmiller, says, "I think it could be good. I think it could be fun. It's, I'm sure an expense for me and the city, but I think it could create an environment to bring even more businesses to downtown Urbana. I hope it works as they plan."

The temporary sidewalk extension fits in the parallel parking spaces.

Developer Kate Ferrar says, "This is a much more cost effective solution rather than actually permanently extending the sidewalk."

The sidewalks would only be extended from April to October. The money for the curbanas comes from funds specifically used for downtown development.

"To encourage more street vibrancy and downtown life, that's something we can't have because of the narrowness of the sidewalks," says Ferrar.

The curbanas would take up two parking spaces at each location. Two businesses near Pizza-M are against the curb extension because they would like to have those parking spaces. Kitzmiller thinks it shouldn't be a problem.

"I know it will take up a couple parking spots and that's a bit of a concern, but I think it will be a good idea to give it a try. There is other parking nearby. There's the parking garage and a lot down here and during the evenings and weekends Busey Bank let us use their parking so I think we'll be alright."

He likes the direction the city is going in.

"We're starting to build sort of a community down here of music and food that is helping downtown Urbana."

There will be a open house meeting Thursday and Friday. The curbanas still need  approval by city council.
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