City and community leaders tonight will present a progress report to City Council on downtown revitalization through the Downtown BlueprintPlus plan.

Tonight'€™s report will announce the work of the BlueprintPlus steering committee, comprised of government, business and neighborhood leaders, is complete and project implementation is ready to begin. Leaders tonight will also announce the creation of several task forces that will move forward with implementation strategies and continue with recommendations. In addition to the task forces, a new “Friends of Downtown Forum” will be established to continue to engage the entire community in talking about the importance of downtown revitalization. The Downtown Improvement District (DID) will play a key leadership role in driving programs and developments.

“Investing in downtown will make our community more competitive for business and job growth, said Mayor Graham Richard. “Investors and developers are looking to downtown because of excellent housing, job creation, business investment, and retail opportunities.”

Beginning in 2005, nationally recognized architect and planning visionary Gianni Longo led the BlueprintPlus process to develop project recommendations for downtown by building on the foundation established in the original Downtown Blueprint from 2002. Public participation and community consensus building guided the BlueprintPlus plan. The community has developed a single vision to guide public policy and private investments in downtown.

“There is not a single silver bullet for a revitalized downtown,” said Mayor Richard. “It is a process of continued growth and momentum to move forward. Vibrant downtowns are the heart of livable, competitive regions. Downtown is everybody'€™s neighborhood and represents an enormous opportunity for our future.”

Some of those projects include the following:

  • A new downtown hotel
  • Mixed-use retail and residential development along with a parking garage at Washington Boulevard and Harrison Street
  • Conversion of Wayne and Berry streets in the Central Business District and the two northbound blocks of Calhoun Street from one-way to two-way to improve traffic circulation
  • Studying the feasibility of a downtown mixed-use baseball stadium
  • Pursue a plan for a youth sports complex in the North River area
  • Work to meet the demand for diverse downtown housing options
  • Streetscapes to improve visitors'€™ experience in downtown

    Task Forces:
  • Downtown Mixed-Use Baseball Stadium: This group has conducted several meetings and is studying all aspects of how a mixed-use facility could serve as a catalyst for downtown development.
  • North River: Will examine youth sports and land acquisition.
  • Citywide Neighborhood Enhancement: As a starting point, will focus on Harrison Street and south of Jefferson Boulevard.
  • Zoning/Regulations/Code: Will focus on overlay districts and removing barriers.