Consultants also proposed several plans to provide new modes of safe and convenient transportation.
Strader suggested that the city should narrow the four lanes on Kanawha Boulevard, remove the middle barrier, and add two-way bike paths. The narrower lanes would slow down traffic and create a more pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare, Strader said.
Strader added that the city could also implement a similar plan on Virginia and Quarrier streets.
"We need to think about pedestrian needs instead of just the fastest way to get through downtown," he said.
Suggestions to improve the quality of life included adding new farmers' markets and grocery stores that sell fresh, affordable foods.
Strader said that the city could also work on fitness and community health by adding more green spaces, sidewalks, and bike paths.
Gossman elaborated on specific proposals to revitalize downtown Charleston.
According to Gossman, poorly implemented urban renewal projects have left some downtown areas dingy and unappealing.
He pointed out that high property costs, high labor costs but low rent costs often discourage developers from building new housing downtown. Furthermore, empty parking lots occupy space and discourage foot traffic, he said.
Gossman outlined ways that "Imagine Charleston" can combat these problems.
He hopes to use local resources to redevelop downtown Charleston, make use of Charleston's impressive history and location, embrace a distinct identity for downtown, treat that downtown "urban core" as an important Charleston neighborhood, and establish a "professional urban core management authority."
Such proposals would yield an immediate return on investment and they have already placed Charleston on track to become a "world-class destination," Gossman said.
Consultants have posted the full "Imagine Charleston" plan online at www.imaginecharleston.com. The public can comment and offer feedback over the next two to three weeks. Consultants will incorporate suggestions into a final proposal for the Municipal Planning Commission and Charleston City Council.Reach Laura Reston at laura.res...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.