A few years ago, a Houston local improvement coalition (MSMRA, the Main Street/Market Square Redevelopment Authority; and the area TIRZ, the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Number Three) hired PPS to analyze Market Square, one of the city's downtown parks. A "dead" space downtown lacking activities, the site was often described as being lifeless and creepy, despite being in the middle of the city.
PPS found, unsurprisingly, that people stayed away due to the lack of other people using the space. PPS's suggestions for livening up the park included a food stand with lots of seating, a playground, and temporary events: fitness classes, live music and a farmers market.
The #1 PPS recommendation for making the space active was a dog run. The amenity would attract people at all times of day, as well as provide a place where dog owners could meet their neighbors and form community connections.
The city is now working towards implementing these suggestions, and hope to begin construction in the summer of 2009.