Phoenixville closed a major roadway to vehicles to help businesses at the pandemic’s start. The initiative is back — and it’s flourishing

Phoenixville closed a major roadway to vehicles to help businesses boost foot traffic amid the pandemic. The “open street experience” is back and flourishing.

People walk down a sidewalk

File photo: Phoenixville residents and visitors safely walk down a road closed to traffic. (Courtesy of Phoenixville Borough)

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PXV Inside Out has arrived.

Phoenixville is closing a major roadway to vehicular traffic to create a safe area for pedestrians to explore the borough’s shops.

The open street initiative returns on May 27. Each week, Bridge Street will close every Friday afternoon through Monday morning until Oct. 3.

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Phoenixville’s open street “experience” is actually a product of the pandemic in 2020. Jean Krack is the borough manager. He said that in the months following the first shutdowns, Phoenixville Borough Council initially wanted to find a way to reinvigorate local businesses.

“Closing the street is not necessarily something that is thought about. But in that case, back in June of 2020, we looked at it, realized that we could do it, and took very quick action with their support and did that,” Krack said.

The strategy returned in 2021 and while COVID-19 case counts have lowered from the heights of the pandemic, the interest in an open street hasn’t subsided.

Initially, the act of shutting down a major roadway did not have a name. Recent conversations have since changed that. Now, it is being marketed as a tool to attract people to the borough of more than 16,000 people in Chester County.

“We had the dialogue of whether we wanted to continue it, but not only continue it, but actually then market it as — here’s a downtown that’s doing something a little different. And so the Inside Out idea blossomed, and we were ready to start our summer 2022 with a welcome to the entire region to come to enjoy Phoenixville,” Krack said.

In addition to the places to shop and the ability to walk on the road, the borough has also planned festivities.

The parking lot at the corner of Main Street and Bridge Street will host many of the activities during the summer including First Fridays. It will feature live music and street vendors. Saturdays will usually be an event day with Blobfest and Chester County Pride Fest scheduled to take place.

Phoenixville’s PXV Inside Out logo promotes its open air experience. (Courtesy of Phoenixville Borough)

“At this time, we’re keeping an open mind about it, but the idea of Inside Out with the restaurants has sustained itself and so to foster that, you obviously want to give people other things to do than just walking around or sitting down and dining,” Krack said.

On Sundays, the focus will shift to fitness as visitors will be able to take part in various physical activities like yoga, CrossFit, and martial arts.

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“This is a wonderful time when it comes to animals. You will be surprised at how many people, how many restaurants and business owners put out little bowls of water for people who are walking their dogs,” Krack said. “It’s just fun and amazing.”

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