Despite the challenges of 2020 many of NP’s partner communities have moved ahead with planning and implementation on a number of fronts:
Montgomery, AL Wins Best Comprehensive Plan
The City of Montgomery completed its first Comprehensive Plan in over fifty years and the City's effort is being celebrated. The Alabama Chapter of the National Planning Association recognized the City of Montgomery with the award for Best Comprehensive Plan in communities over 50,000 in population at its recent annual planning conference. The City Council unanimously adopted its new plan in July 2020.
NP provided the economic development and housing analysis as well as the recommendations related to continued economic development and neighborhood regeneration. NP has been continuing to support the implementation of the plan working with the Montgomery Chamber on building out the needed economic ecosystem as well as setting priorities.
Richardson, TX Continues to Reinvent Its Telecom Corridor
The reboot of the Telecom Corridor continues in Richardson. In 2019 NP worked with Interface Studio to develop a strategy to regenerate the Telecom Corridor through its transformation into a TOD centered innovation district. Among the actions identified was having a point person to oversee the activity and partnerships, developing a partnership with the University of Texas Dallas (UTD) research engine, placemaking initiatives, new zoning to promote revamping of buildings, and community building activities.
Since the report the area has been rebranded as the Richardson Innovation Quarter, staff has been committed to oversee implementation, new zoning was passed, a community building platform IQBrew has been launched and the city and UTD have entered into a strategic partnership to bring UTD entrepreneurs to the IQ.
University of Georgia Uses Innovation District to Connect to Downtown
The University of Georgia’s Innovation District continues to make progress since the innovation district study conducted by NP in 2017. Over the course of the study, NP had worked with the city and the UGA to identify potential opportunities, locations and areas of focus and what it meant for building typologies. NP recommended against a stand alone suburban style research park that had been part of a prior university assessment, and instead recommended using an innovation district to stitch together the campus and downtown Athens. Beginning in 2018 UGA launched its innovation initiative and today it is a full-fledged effort that blends the innovation facilities with the downtown.
Pop Up Restaurant Proving the Potential For Change in Brockton, MA
The Boston Globe recently featured Brockton, MA's Prova pop up beer garden and restaurant in its On The Street series. Prova opened in 2018 after a successful crowdfunding campaign and has been the proving ground for start-ups like the Brockton Brewing Company. The pop up’s success has catalyzed the City to take other actions supportive to new food enterprises including improving ordinances and creating a $1.5 million restaurant development fund.
In 2017, NP worked with the City of Brockton and MassDevelopment to evaluate the feasibility of a restaurant incubator. NP's research suggested that it was critical to "prove" the market for downtown restaurant activity and a temporary, pop up model made more sense before committing the capital required to for the full build out of restaurant incubator. The report also noted that there needed to be a comprehensive approach to restaurant development that included access to capital, support for tenant improvements, a marketing campaign, and targeted place-making efforts.