Douglasville plans for the Future
DOWNTOWN MASTER PLAN AND TEN YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN ANNOUNCED FOR DOUGLASVILLE
The City of Douglasville, the Downtown Development Authority, and the Development Authority of Douglas County presented the Downtown Master Plan and 10 Year Strategic Plan at an open house November 14, 2017. The presentation was another step in the long process of managing city growth in a way that lives up to the stated vision of the project: “Downtown Douglasville should become a place where residents and visitors want to be, and should be comparable to other historic suburban downtowns in the Atlanta region.” Steps leading to the presentation included the Ultimate Downtown Block Party last April, an online survey for interested parties, a Visioning Workshop for the Master Plan team in June, meetings with stakeholders, and numerous Master Plan Committee Meetings.
Leading the unveiling of the plan was Planner and Landscape Architect Adam Williamson. He is a principal with TSW, the Planning and Design Firm that worked closely with Douglasville for six months prior to the presentation. TSW is well known in the Southeast and has garnered more than 40 architectural and planning awards since 2000. Adam specializes in the planning and design of livable communities and sustainable developments and has designed projects in many states and internationally.
Survey results showed that area residents come to the downtown area for restaurants and events, but that they also want more of those opportunities in addition to more downtown retail choices. Respondents also shared concerns about traffic congestion, parking, and pedestrian and bicycle accessibility.
As presented, the plan identified four main areas: Land Use and Development, Transportation, Economic Development, and Arts and Culture.
Land Use and Development goals seek to “promote a mix of uses that create a live, work, and play environment.” This includes creating a “town green” as a place for passive recreation, community activities, and special events. Landscaping and beautification of the downtown area are sought as well as “new housing that is appropriate for a range of ages and lifestyles to expand the downtown population and increase consumer demand for existing and new businesses.”
To achieve these goals, the Plan proposes: “Rezone all properties in the blocks with frontage on Church Street, including the former county jail site and blocks surrounding Worthan Park, to CBD (Central Business District) to allow for mixed use development. Rezone parcels along Old Highway 92 north of West Strickland Street to encourage redevelopment. Revise the CBD zoning district to allow for greater residential density and encourage smaller lot sizes.
Revise parking regulations for parcels zoned CBD to decrease required parking spaces for multi-family developments, in order to ease development constraints. Revise residential districts in the downtown to encourage smaller lot sizes, reduce setbacks, and exempt properties in the historic district from meeting certain requirements. These updates will create downtown friendly single family home and townhome zoning designations.”
Land Use and Development projects include:
- Demolition and site preparation of former county jail site
- Construct a town green with amphitheater at the former county jail site
- New City Hall
- Zoning Assessment
- Revise CBD zoning designation
- Rezone all parcels along Church Street, Spring Street, and select parcels off Dallas Highway to CBD
- Revise setback requirements and lot sizes for residential districts within the study area
- Revise parking requirements for CBD parcels to ease development
- Construct a dog park and shade structure at Worthan Park
Transportation goals include improving the downtown streetscapes so that they are more walkable, working with the Georgia Department of Transportation to improve the current design of West Broad Street in order to improve parking and pedestrian traffic, and improving bicycle access throughout downtown Douglasville.
The Plan recommends redesigning Church Street; narrowing the driving lanes and adding a bicycle track (lane), landscaped strips, wider sidewalks (8 feet minimum) and, where possible, on-street parking. Club Drive would be altered with narrower lanes, a multi-use trail, landscape strips, and some on-street parking. Campbellton Street would undergo the same redesign as Club Drive. Gaps in the sidewalk system throughout downtown would be filled, creating a more complete pedestrian network. A new Bicycle Loop on Church Street, Club Drive, and Campbellton Street, connecting to the bicycle lanes on Selman Avenue would enhance non-motorized navigation of the downtown area. The plan seeks to create “an alternative streetscape design for West Broad Street to replace GDOT’s (current) plan.” Finally, it proposes the creation of “wayfinding and additional information that provide visitors to Downtown Douglasville information about parking to increase awareness of where parking is permitted/not permitted.”
Transportation Projects Include:
- Shared parking deck with private development, which includes 60 spaces located in the deck for public use
- Church Street Streetscape Project. To span Club Drive to Fairburn Road, and include wider sidewalks, improved on-street parallel parking, a 2 way cycle track, improved lighting, and landscaping
- Club Drive Streetscape Project. To span Broad Street to Selman Drive, and include a multi-use path (part of the new “Bicycle Loop”), on-street parallel parking, improved lighting, and landscaping
- Campbellton Street Streetscape Project. To span Broad Street to Selman Avenue, and include a multi-use path (part of the new “Bicycle Loop”), improved lighting, and landscaping
- 6' sidewalk NS on Spring Street to connect Club Drive to the Conference Center
- Create and implement a signage and wayfinding system to increase awareness of the location of public parking and other City facilities
- Create an alternative design and plan for GDOT's design for Broad Street
- Design and construct a public surface parking lot off Church Street of approximately 75 spaces to accommodate downtown visitors and provide needed parking for future downtown Business
In Economic Development, the Master Plan identified three main goals: Redeveloping the old county jail area into a recognized downtown anchor with a mix of residential, commercial, and civic uses. Recruit more retail stores and restaurants to generate more weekend and evening customer traffic. Finally, examine financing efforts to attract developer interest and provide financial incentives to support redevelopment.
To those ends, the recommendations were to promote Church Street as Downtown Douglasville’s “Main Street,” to create a Tax Allocation District in downtown in order to attract developers and fund redevelopment, to recruit a “catalytic business” to jumpstart development, to promote renovation of historic structures, and to redevelop the old City Hall and Conference Center into retail space.
Projects for Economic Development include:
- Buy and assemble contiguous parcels to be resold to developers (overall downtown
plan as guide, to be phased per budget availability)
- Sell the former Conference Center and the current City Hall to a private developer
- Tax Allocation District Creation. Create a Redevelopment Plan that would delineate
the boundaries of the TAD, estimate the tax increment amounts, and outline the scope
of the TAD and what improvements the proceeds would fund
- Build a hotel to be owned/operated by the City's Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Business recruitment, with focus on business types that have excess demand in the Primary Market Area
- Recruit unique local and regional restaurants to jumpstart additional business
development in the downtown
- Create a grant program that would fund interior renovations of older downtown
properties to make them more attractive to future tenants and owners
Identified goals in Art and Culture include creating an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and other entertainment, promote such events and festivals to bring more activity into the downtown and support business development, and developing ways to include more art into downtown Douglasville.
Recommendations in the plan include conducting a study to determine space needs for a cultural arts center to better inform the best location for one downtown, installing “playable art” in green spaces and parks, and creating a program that would feature public art installations throughout the downtown area.
Projects for Art and Culture include:
- Perform an architectural space study to determine programming and size of a future fine arts space.
- Create an Arts Master Plan that would focus on the creation of a public art program that features outdoor installations around the downtown area, and identifies suitable areas for displaying these Installations
After the initial presentation, those attending the open house heard from experts and City officials about funding options and challenges facing completion. The plan proposes public improvements worth $40.5 million and nearly a million square feet of new or redevelopment of property. The last time the City asked voters (2009) to approve a Tax Allocation District it was rejected. The group identified other possibilities, but expressed that the TAD was probably the best option on the table. After the presentation, each table of attendees reviewed the plan and gave initial feedback. Support was widespread, with primary concerns centered on adequate parking, especially for events.
Community Development Manager, Patrice Williams, thanked the audience for their hard work and encouraged them to stay involved by volunteering through the Main Street Program. The Downtown Master Plan and 10 Year Strategic Plan will undergo any necessary fine tuning and then go before the Council and Mayor for approval.
To view more photos of the Douglasville Downtown Master Plan, you may read pages 36 - 41 of the 2018 January Issue of Chapel Hill News & Views here.