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Downtown Doylestown initiates open marketplaces

Support for businesses  
Downtown Doylestown has taken a big hit from COVID-19. Some small businesses are fighting for their survival and others are navigating how to gradually reopen in the iconic borough, home to many popular shops, bars and restaurants.
As Bucks County moves into the “yellow” phase of Gov. Wolf’s three-phase plan to begin the state’s pandemic recovery, Doylestown officials are launching a focused initiative of their own.
Called “Operation Doylestown,” the program is designed to encourage businesses to extend their storefronts into common areas in town and hold “open marketplaces,” pop-up shopping areas and other activities.
The campaign, said borough manager John Davis, “is an umbrella for a lot of different actions, with a goal of being adjustable and flexible” to support local businesses.
Initially, there are three open marketplaces planned. The first is scheduled for Saturday, June 13, in the Hamilton Street parking lot, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Another is June 18 and the third on June 21. The dates and times are subject to change, said Davis, and people should check the borough website, for the most up-to-date information.
The borough is willing to relax restrictions on parking, use of alley ways and parking lots, said Davis. “We’re stripping down the approval process to help businesses the best way we can. We’re working with them one-on-one.”
Describing the effort as “finding a balance between pedestrians, cars, commercial space, safety, businesses and parking,” Davis said, “we’re reinventing” downtown.
The various accommodations and changes will “last for the term of the emergency, through the yellow phase and possibly into the green,” the manager said.
Davis stressed that pandemic safety requirements will continue and health standards will be met.
A recent survey showed that in order to feel safe and return to Doylestown to shop and dine, people want to see safety measures in place. “Social distancing isn’t just required it’s what people want to see,” he said.
“Operation Doylestown” takes its name from a nationally recognized program – “Operation 64.” Fifty-six years ago, Doylestown, like small towns across the country, were struggling and the borough faced efforts to demolish its historic district.
A small group of dedicated business owners and residents came together to block the destruction of the downtown, preserving and restoring it to its current vibrancy.