The Edmond Sun

August 28, 2013

Recommendations made for Downtown Master Plan

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The scope of work proposed for the Downtown Master Plan Study was discussed this week in a special City Council workshop with the Central Edmond Urban Development Board.

The Central Edmond Urban Development Board has revisited plans made in a 1998 Downtown Master Plan through public meetings and presentations to protect the future development of Broadway. Recommendations by the group will be taken into account by future city councils.

A presentation was given by Wendy Shabay, an associate urban planner with Freese Nichols of Fort Worth. A cost estimate of the study will not be announced until a formal contract is approved by the City Council on Sept. 9, said Steve Commons, assistant city manager.

However, the 2012-13 city budget included $150,000 for a downtown feasibility study that will pay for a consultant.

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, said Charles Lamb, mayor.

Shabay said the Urban Board’s recommendations from two prior studies will be weighed closely in the design process by Freese Nichols. Local developers also will be consulted along with public comment, Lamb said.

“We will be building off of that,” Shabay said. “We do want to look at relating the surrounding neighborhoods from downtown to UCO.”

Plans will be grounded in an affordable market reality, she said. Lamb emphasized that the private sector’s lead is better suited than the City of Edmond to finance redevelopment.

Lamb and Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell said the greatest planning opportunity and challenge in the Central Business District is south of Second Street and west of Broadway going to Fifth Street.

“There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity there,” Caldwell said.

Downtown needs to become a magnet for business and tourism, said Nick Massey, city councilman.

“Where it stands right now is it’s very hard for an individual business to figure out where they fit in where it’s going,” Massey said. “So what I hope will come out of this is a vision of what it could be and where it’s going.”

Councilman Darrell Davis said the plan should set the baseline for future expansion and connectivity.

“In the downtowns as I travel across the country, I see communities taking their downtown back. That’s the pulse of a town,” Davis said. “So I’m looking for this plan to give us that connection for the community that surrounds it.”

The unique character of downtown should be preserved and enhanced, said Elizabeth Waner, city councilwoman.

Streetscaping, landscaping and the Festival Market Place are recommendations that have already come to fruition from the 1998 Downtown Master Plan process.

The Downtown Master Plan considers water features and a possible railway transit station being studied for an area south of Edmond Road and west of Broadway. A traffic circle is recommended to be at Fifth Street and Broadway to signal people they are entering the downtown district.

Another idea is to make downtown more pedestrian friendly with fewer cars. An illustration showed cars parking diagonally down the middle of the street with the current two-lane traffic on both sides reduced to single lanes.

The proposed pedestrian bridge is also part of the master plan, Urban Board Chairman David Forrest said in May. The bridge would be east of the railroad tracks crossing West Edmond Road where it would link to more parking, he said.

In 2009 the Benham Company presented a bridge design that would cost the city a little more than $1 million, which also includes a $485,000 new parking lot with 142 spaces on the south side of West Edmond Road just west of Broadway. The cost of the bridge itself was projected at $565,500 in 2009. That project was delayed at the time in light of the need to pay for a new Public Safety Center, which is now being paid for by a half-cent dedicated sales tax.