The Edmond Sun

February 20, 2014

Big plans made for Edmond’s downtown

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — A presentation by Freese Nichols consultants of Fort Worth was made Wednesday to city staff and local business leaders regarding the Downtown Master Plan.

The Central Edmond Urban Development Board has revisited plans made in a 1998 Downtown Master Plan. Wednesday’s meeting hosted by the Urban Board was one of a series of meetings made by the consultant group. The city hired the group to make recommendations to protect the future development of Broadway.

“You’ve got an anchor of Fifth Street where the Jazz Lab and some of that mixed use is,” said Wendy Shabay, an associate urban planner with Freese Nichols. “There are some residential opportunities to fill around that.” Residential focused development could serve as a bookend on Broadway and Fifth Street.

Some shared parking strategies could be developed in the downtown area of municipal government, she said. This could include building a parking lot over the Citizen’s Bank drive-through as well as at the parking lot for the First Methodist Church, she said.

Potential opportunities to bridge the University of Central Oklahoma to the Central Business District by developing mixed use residential living on the east side of the railroad tracks as well as west of Boulevard.

“One of the keys to this is in order to pull this off, you’ve got to think about parking in another way,” Shabay said. “You can’t take blocks of surface parking for one use and be able to have success in what everybody needs to do.”

The Central Business District area goes from Danforth to Ninth Street, to slightly west of the railroad tracks and then borders the University of Central Oklahoma and then to Ninth Street and Boulevard. This study will be limited in scope from Danforth to Fifth Street. The idea could be repeated one block north of Campbell just east of the railroad tracks, she said.

“Then you really start to have a bigger development block and abandon that part of Campbell,” she said. “What’s nice about that is you have Old North to anchor at the other end of Campbell.”

Long-term plans for transit have been identified for locating transit east of the railroad tracks and a few blocks north of West Edmond Road.

The Regional Transit Dialogue Steering Committee has identified three rail corridors that could link to the $120 million modern street car system being constructed with an intermodal hub in downtown Oklahoma City. RTD calls for the hub to link Edmond, Norman, Midwest City and Tinker Air Force Base.

Commercial in-fill with transit parking to also be able to utilize  the Downtown Festival Market would provide connectivity for pedestrians. Retail frontage south of Edmond Road would work well with residential frontage behind it, she said.

“One of the things we heard is UCO may be looking for a performing arts center,” Shabay said. “One of the things we certainly heard from all the downtown users is we need some entertainment to bring more people into the downtown area.”

She said constructing a performing arts center on Broadway near Fifth Street would be an iconic investment for the city. Another parking garage would help pull in the retail off of Fifth Street.

The use of placing circles on key intersections was also discussed.

Private investment and the use of private/public partnerships was given as a way to fund the projects. Developer Pete Reeser suggested that the city of Edmond should follow the lead of Oklahoma City with something similar to a MAPS plan. | 341-2121