The SIPA Capstone team conducted research to identify historical center street management models to support the activation of public spaces in the Historic Center of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. Through discussions with city officials, business owners, civil society organizations, and community residents, the team conducted qualitative research to analyze the extent to which institutional and financial mechanisms, specifically Public-Private Partnerships and Business Improvement Districts, could be established in Santiago. Over the course of field research in March 2019, the team led three mixed-sector focus groups, conducted seventeen semi-structured interviews and completed thirty-one business surveys.
The findings from this research show a current equilibrium of use in Santiago’s Historic Center that is one of deterioration of patrimonial buildings combined with feelings of insecurity, social conflict, and government inaction, where commercial space continually encroaches on residential, and bureaucracy impedes progress. To overcome this equilibrium, there needs to be a change in either the barriers preventing investment and adaptive reuse or an increase in the attractiveness of investing in the Historic Center. In the short-term, the team recommended for the existing Historic Center Council to be restructured, and for a public-awareness and education campaign on the cultural value of the patrimony buildings to be created. In the medium-term, the team recommended introducing a Historic Center planning process for conflict resolution, introducing an innovation competition RFP, enhancing tourism and security, and incentivizing investment in the Historic Center. Lastly, in the long-term, the team recommended creating an Office of Small Business.