Vibrant Streets™ Launches Inaugural Learning Lab Conference

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Event offers a hands-on approach to creating a vibrant retail street in any community.

Based on the interest we received via our Vibrant Streets™ website and year-long webinar series, we are confident that this will be the first of many successful Vibrant Streets™ events,” says Heather Arnold, Streetsense

Vibrant Streets™ is holding its inaugural Learning Lab conference from April 29-30th, 2013, on Bethesda Row. Attendees will be comprised of real estate developers, economic development officials, planners, architects, community members, and retailers, who will walk away with a hands-on guide that will help them create a vibrant retail street in their community. This will not be a typical conference or seminar, but a practical, real world, how-to-do-it-better event featuring walking tours, workshops, and presentations on Bethesda Row – a model for a modern and vibrant retail community.

Mitchell Silver, immediate past president of the American Planning Association and Chief Planning and Economic Development Officer for the City of Raleigh, North Carolina, will be the plenary speaker for this event at the Bethesda Row Cinema. The Learning Lab will feature best practices presenters Heather Arnold, W. Michael Fleming, David Park, Prashant Singh, Eric Avner, and Kimberly Driggins. Ellen Dunham-Jones, author of Retrofitting Suburbia, will be the keynote speaker.

The walking tours will highlight Bethesda Row to show what makes a model vibrant retail street. The tours will be lead by some of the Vibrant Streets Learning Lab sponsors: Karina Ricks, Principal at Nelson\Nygaard; John Tschiderer, Vice President of Development from Federal Realty Investment Trust; Bruce Leonard, Principal at Streetsense; and Caitlin Scarry and Charlene Vera, Corporate Business Developers at Victor Stanley, Inc. Other sponsors include EagleBank; Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, PA; Kelley Drye & Warren LLP; Financial Foods; Ntiva; HOK; Bethesda Bagels; and the Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC-Bethesda.

The second day of the event will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn and dedicated to workshops hosted by the platinum sponsor, Streetsense. Experts from the firm will offer problem-solving and troubleshooting for each community's vibrant street. Participants have the choice of meeting with industry professionals covering everything from evaluating existing storefront architecture to brainstorming a unified brand to starting a neighborhood broker training program.

Vibrant Streets™ helps communities grow economically by promoting business and development, growing jobs, expanding its tax base, increasing property values, and improving quality of life. “Based on the interest we received via our Vibrant Streets™ website and year-long webinar series, we are confident that this will be the first of many successful Vibrant Streets™ events,” says Heather Arnold, Director of Research and Analysis at Streetsense and founder of Vibrant Streets™. With the unique understanding of what makes retail districts successful, Vibrant Streets™ is poised to revolutionize efforts ranging from educational curricula to legislative agendas to state and federal funding evaluation criteria.

American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) members can receive six Certification Maintenance (CM) credits by attending. Further information and registration is available at:

About Vibrant Streets™:
Vibrant Streets™ is an initiative created to encourage successful, neighborhood retail environments “from the grassroots up.” The original project behind Vibrant Streets™ was a DC version of the toolkit, created in partnership with the DC Office of Planning. The Vibrant Streets™ Toolkit can be used by retailers, businesses, merchants' associations, government agencies, neighborhoods, and community groups to make incremental, measured improvements in their commercial districts to attract shops and restaurants. For more information, visit

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