When Greenwood created a downtown revitalization plan it included a range of specific properties and goals that gave city officials a vision for the future.
Now, the city is beginning to take the first steps toward turning those ideas into detailed plans.
The next step for Greenwood’s plan to revive downtown will be taking concepts and designs from paper and turning them into specific construction projects, prioritizing which should be completed first. With each construction plan would come a cost estimate.
Greenwood is hiring Rundell Ernstberger, a consulting firm based in Indianapolis, to review the city’s downtown development plan. The development plan highlighted 12 points of emphasis, or goals, that the city wanted to focus on when it begins to restore and revamp downtown.
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The firm will look at Greenwood’s downtown revitalization plan and create project ideas for key areas, or “signature spaces,” that the city has highlighted with having the most potential for desired development.
Rundell Ernstberger is going to come up with construction plans, cost estimates and when the work would should be done, consultant Chuck Cagann said.
The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission voted 4-0 to hire the firm for $42,500 for the four-month study that will replace ideas with detailed plans and direction. The commission is managing the project because the downtown falls in a tax-increment financing, or TIF, district.
When the plan is complete, the redevelopment commission can examine the projects and decide how to proceed, Greenwood Project Assistant Kevin Steinmetz said.
The city has the foundation of its revitalization already in progress, board member Mike Tapp said.
A $1.1 million project to restore 22 façades, or store fronts, in downtown Greenwood will begin after contractors are hired in November. That project will take 12 to 18 months once it begins. The façade project was lead by the Restore Old Towne Greenwood group that is heading a movement to revive downtown.
“The restore Old Towne group has been a force, but it’s not just façades,” Tapp said. “We talk about revitalizing downtown, but I think we can all agree there’s not really a downtown Greenwood. We need to do anything we can to attract residents and businesses to be downtown.”
Since the city council approved the 12-point concept plan, Greenwood schools has decided to build a new middle school, leaving the aged middle school on Madison Avenue available for the city to buy. That project — and future uses of the property — will be added to the construction plan.
Another shift is in what area should be considered part of the downtown. A key element to a successful downtown plan is having a green civic core, Steinmetz said, which would be Craig Park for Greenwood. The park hosts WAMM Fest and the annual Fourth of July festival and should be included in all downtown revitalization plans, Steinmetz said.
Within the city’s area of concentration that defines downtown Greenwood, the firm will find the locations that have the most potential, according to the city’s revitalization plan.
One of those key areas: the city center parking lot at the intersection of Main Street and Madison Avenue.
The plan is to have a mixed use development of commercial and residential use, placing apartments above shops and restaurants with parking included. And next to it will be a central public gathering place that could serve as a new location for the farmer’s market.
And the plan is to make Main Street and Madison Avenue the signature intersection in the heart of downtown Greenwood.
City officials want to see decorative street signs and lighting, accompanied by trees lining the streets, along widened sidewalks that make downtown a safe and easily accessible destination for residents on foot. In between buildings and along trails at the old city park will be “pocket parks,” or small courtyards with benches and art sculptures.
“We have always talked about walkability downtown with wider sidewalks and connecting trails,” Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said. “Improvements to downtown will allow us to bring a lot of that together.”
When residents and visitors drive into the downtown area, the idea is to have decorative landscaping, or structures and signs, that welcome them.
Improving the traffic flow downtown has been one of the main priorities on the city’s list of projects and potential plans, Myers said.
The redevelopment commission also approved spending $68,685 on a traffic study in downtown Greenwood. A consultant will do an in-depth study of downtown traffic, from Smith Valley Road and U.S. 31 to Washington and Broadway streets.
Possible roundabouts, one-way streets and areas where turn lanes could be added are all going to be reviewed as possible improvements when the city receives the data from the study in about seven months.
And what the city plans to do with its streets and roads around downtown will determine who they can bring in to develop the area, Myers said.
“We’ll have to figure out a traffic plan to use. We need to work on roads to prove to developers and the businesses we are going to work on traffic issues so it will flow better. It will show local residents and business owners that the city is truly involved in revitalizing downtown,” he said.
And with wider sidewalks lining improved roads, the city wants commercial buildings along the street, such as retail or restaurants, to have an outdoor presence for pedestrians and motorists passing by.
Ideas include restaurant seating outside on the sidewalk and retail shops that use the extra room to draw in people passing by.
After the study is done and the proposed plans are created, two of the biggest factors in turning the ideas into actual construction projects are who the city partners with to develop downtown and how much it’s going to cost, Myers said.
“We’ll have to do a public partnership with a developer or two that is interested in new residential and commercial buildings for our downtown area,” Myers said. “We have to find a developer willing to come in and bring businesses downtown. It’s going to be a really exciting time to see our downtown taking off.”
Here are some of the proposed ideas that could soon be turned into detailed construction plans for downtown Greenwood.
- Streetscapes such as trees and decorative street lights and street signs lining wider sidewalks in downtown Greenwood.
- Signature spaces that sit between buildings or near parking lots that will be turned into small courtyards or “pocket parks” with benches and art.
- Multi-use development where apartments will sit on top of restaurants and retail shops
- Trails that connect downtown Greenwood with old city park and Craig Park.
- Restaurants that have outdoor seating and retail shops that use larger sidewalks to display and sell merchandise.
- Gateway signs at the outer boundaries of a revitalized downtown Greenwood that welcome pedestrian and vehicle traffic into the downtown corridor