Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Downtown Design Standards Translate to Investment Security

Officials from the Gateway Planning Group told the Owensboro City Commission on Tuesday that having design standards for buildings will spur private investment downtown while protecting the investments of people who open businesses in the area.

Gateway officials said having design standards for renovating downtown buildings has been the deciding factor in other cities that wanted to draw investment back to the city's core.

"What we're most interested in ... is design compatibility," said Scott Polikov, Gateway's president.

The plan breaks downtown up into several districts -- the historic core, downtown core, riverfront core, riverfront edge, downtown transition, Frederica Street corridor, downtown campus and fringe neighborhoods. Each district will have set design regulations governing building size, height per floor, setbacks from the property line and other items. Other regulations will cover parking and the types of signs that are allowed.

The goal is create buildings that are designed in such a way that, if a business were to close, a new business could move in without changing the character of the district, and the "beauty of the (neighborhood) remains constant," Polikov said.

"We're more concerned with: How does it feel as you walk down the street?" Polikov said.

The plan calls for a downtown design administrator to be appointed by the city manager. The administrator will work with a committee made up of city staff and members of the Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Commission, and the body will be tasked with reviewing development plans to ensure they conform with the design standards.