Community stakeholders can be valuable allies to city officials engaged in downtown regeneration and community planning. This project highlights the force of engaging such allies in planning initiatives. It focuses on a long-neglected community that was once a thriving African American cultural and commercial hub. Organized as a city-university collaborative, the project brought together a cadre of community stakeholders: a planning studio professor and graduate students; a professional planner; architects; preservationists; and area residents, business owners and community leaders. Stakeholders held several meetings to evaluate the overall needs of the area, discuss options that would allow the concurrency of neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation and commercial economic interests while adhering to existing design guidelines. The group’s work culminated in a proposed land use plan that is sensitive to the needs of families, businesses and the city’s revitalization efforts. The plan calls for creating built spaces that complement the natural environment and encourages integrating green initiatives with regenerative efforts. It proposes creating active parks; cultural, arts and entertainment districts; and zoning that allows for single and multifamily housing. It transforms the district into one that is mixed-use, economically viable, family-oriented and preserves the area’s authentically historic and cultural assets.
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