Downtown Master Plan
Highlights of the Plan include the following:
A need to address:
- appearance of the approaches into downtown and the scope of work created by the Plan identifies a need for both public and private investments within the area identified. Through this collective partnership, it is estimated that once the Plan is implemented to its fullest potential, an estimated $178 million of investment will be realized. It is important to note that the Plan has a 10-year horizon and will take time and cooperation to achieve the goals identified in the Plan. The overall vision of the Plan is ambitious yet achievable with committed community leaders, persistence and a continued interest to keep our standards elevated. ck of adequate wayfinding signs,
- erosion of downtown edges into the historic residential neighborhoods,
- more residential and mixed uses in the downtown core,
- the continued consideration of potential sites of catalyst uses and their potential major impacts to downtown and the city at-large,
- attention to open space hierarchy and streetscapes,
- concentrate on character and image.
Ms. Platt stated that the downtown streets have an attractive urban feel but contain few amenities, especially those devoted to pedestrians. She further stated that we have many attractive historic buildings and that we have a very strong commercial core that is luckily surrounded by historic residential neighborhoods. However, Ms. Platt warned that it is these neighborhoods that need attention as their restoration is essential to downtown’s revitalization. Noted were the infringement of industrial uses in these neighborhoods as well as permitted deterioration, alterations and non-contributing new buildings and demolitions that collectively and individually have deteriorated these neighborhoods.
Therefore, one of the main premises and concepts of the Master Plan is the work and attention needed to support the strengthening of the historic neighborhoods that surround downtown and activities that will support the ongoing Comprehensive Historic Neighborhood Revitalization Plan adopted by the City in 2006. Two other major components of the Plan include market analyses and strategies to support current plans for downtown anchors; including the Paramount Theater, community recreation center and train station, and identification and recommendations for streetscape improvements. Ms. Platt stated that streetscape improvements will create confidence and help bring people downtown as well as make it more pedestrian friendly, aesthetically pleasing and strengthen downtown businesses ability to be accessible and visible.
Specific observations of the current Center Street design stated that the sidewalks are too narrow, head-in parking is dangerous and the center median landscaping blocks views and prevents movement along median. With these observations in mind, the Master Plan recommends several major streetscape improvements that will widen Center Street sidewalks, remove head-in parking and include a parallel parking lane along the sidewalk edge and increase the width of the center median to allow for a center walkway and two rows of large canopy type trees. It also states the need to go underground with all of the overhead service lines. Noting that this plan will decrease the on-street parking units, it specifically identifies locations for new and expanded parking lots and further states that some can eventually be constructed as parking garages. Other important plan recommendations include the creation and adoption of design guidelines to ensure quality development in the commercial core area, the historic neighborhoods and the transitional area between the two.
Essentially, no substantial changes have been made to the Final Plan from its draft form presented to the public at the last series of public forums and as presented to Council with the exception of some minor alterations as suggested by staff and Council. Therefore, knowing that the City Council is in support of the Plan’s agenda and is very committed to affecting positive change to the commercial center of downtown as well as the integral surrounding historic neighborhoods, staff is requesting that the Council officially adopt the Plan as a tool to guide downtown development over the course of the next ten years.