A crowd gathers at Commercial Row Commons for a pop-up outdoor screening of Hitchcock's "The Birds" in late October. Survey feedback points to a strong desire for more community events as residents, workers and visitors re-engage with public life after a period of isolation.
BY BRIAN CARR
Midtown Alliance's recent community survey drew responses from 3,900 people who spend time in the district. The project, conducted every three years, benchmarks attitudes and perceptions about the Midtown Improvement District to create comparisons over time. For this round, Midtown Alliance partnered with Intelligent Standards, a woman-owned research firm and Midtown Alliance member based out of the Coda building near Tech Square, to develop survey questions and spearhead analysis.
While the team is still sifting through the results to draft a complete report of findings that drops later this year, here are a couple of top takeaways:
High Marks Overall on Quality of Life ... But Concerns About Crime
Most respondents would describe Midtown as a great place to live and/or work, with a walkable street grid that makes it convenient to get to arts venues and dining. These and other attributes - like Midtown's strong sense of community and accommodations for pets - reinforce the district's overall appeal as a place where people want to be. And this core set of perceptions remains as strong as it was in 2019 when the survey was last fielded.
But today, only one-third feel the district is safe from crime. That's down from 60% in 2019. One factor that could be driving this change is the amount of time logged in Midtown, particularly among residents: roughly half of survey respondents (49%) who live within the Midtown Improvement District (n=1,788) indicate they've been here for less than five years, meaning half of their lived experiences in Midtown have happened during the COVID-19 pandemic and turbulent times nationally for public safety.
In addition to providing 24-7 supplemental public safety services on the ground that augment the resources of APD, Midtown Alliance publishes a bi-monthly report on crime trends. View our October 2022 report here.
Return to Office: Daytime Workers Still Settling Into New Patterns
The number of days respondents are spending in the workplace is still taking shape, as central business districts nationwide seek out their "new normal." Before March 2020, three out of four survey respondents who identified as daytime workers (n=1,672) were in their Midtown workplace five days per week. But at different stages of the pandemic, workplace strategies have shifted many times, making long-term conclusions difficult.
Looking at snapshots in time, more workers are now spending more days at the office compared to earlier lockdown phases. As of October 2022, 65% of respondents who work in Midtown are coming in 3+ days per week or more. That's up 51% compared to a little over a year ago (43%).
The question employers and Midtown Alliance leaders are asking? How to create conditions for workers that make them want to commute in and work at the office instead of at home. That's one of the key objectives of Midtown Alliance's ongoing work to inform a public life action plan for the area. From the survey, daytime workers indicated they want more access to after-hours events near the office that offer live music and opportunities to purchase food and drinks.
Intelligent Standards is led by Julie Grantier, Data Strategist and Business Consultant and Midtown resident. Jacquelyn Bialo, MPH, PhD is teaming up with Grantier to work on analysis for the survey.
Thank you to everyone who responded to the 2022 Midtown Community Survey.
Watch this space for more reporting on survey results, and how Midtown Alliance and its partners are applying the findings to our work.