Place-Making on the Agenda at Tiffin, Ohio Downtown Summit

In May, I joined Tedd Hardesty, ASLA, a Founding Partner of  EDGE to talk about the power of place-making at a Downtown Summit in Tiffin, Ohio hosted by The Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC) at  historic Heidelberg University.  In addition to place-making, the event also featured Terry Foegler, President of Terry Foegler & Associates LLC. describing economic strategies for partnerships that foster local development through Town / Gown initiatives (college and city collaboration),  Brad Strader, Principal with LSL Planning discussing the importance of complete transportation systems that integrate parking, bike lanes, sidewalks and roadways and Lisa Patt-McDaniel, Director of Community Development with the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing discussing downtown housing opportunities.

Place-making is one of the drivers behind current best practices in downtown planning & development and a key element of Gossman Group’s approach to the development of the Downtown Growth & Development  Plan currently underway for Tiffin, Ohio.  Tiffin’s Downtown is on the rise and the Plan is based on sustainable urban design principles. The Plan’s primary focus is  to identify of catalytic development opportunities and  connections  through creative public realm streetscapes and green spaces designed to encourage people to enjoy the urban environment, live nearby and frequent quality retail and restaurants within the downtown.

The idea of place-making as a downtown planning tool is exemplified by the work we did in Lexington, KY in 2010 just as the City was getting ready to host the Wold Equestrian Games.   One of the nodal activity areas of our study area was  a historic area of downtown known as Cheapside located adjacent to the historic former Fayette County Courthouse.  Cheapside has a storied past as a downtown public market, retail & trade center and is a significant historic site having been the site of Lexington’s slave auctions prior to the Civil War.

During my tenure at MKSK, and in collaboration with the Downtown Lexington Kentucky Partnership, I co-led a team of architects, landscape architects & planners on the preparation and implementation of a downtown streetscape and public realm enhancement program that included this new pavilion.

During my tenure at MKSK, and in collaboration with the Downtown Lexington Kentucky Partnership, I co-led a multidisciplinary team on the preparation and implementation of a downtown streetscape and public realm enhancement program that included this new pavilion.

Our design approach in Lexington was to create a public piazza space between a former courthouse and several historic buildings.  A special feature of the plaza was the development of a new pavilion structure that could serve as a farmer’s market, live music venue and public event center. What occurred after completion was an economic development phenomenon. Existing businesses along the plaza felt an immediate increase in business through the increased pedestrian traffic coming to Cheapside. Area restaurateurs and club owners started to move to Cheapside to be a part of the action and the adjacent areas saw an uptick in activity and business as well.

Thursday Night Live Event at Cheapside Fifth Third Pavilion, Lexington, KY

Thursday Night Live Event at Cheapside Fifth Third Pavilion, Lexington, KY

The Cheapside story in Lexington, KY exemplifies the power of place-making as almost overnight, a significant entertainment district was created. The development of the high quality  pedestrian public gathering space  & multi-purpose  pavilion was the goal of the initiative but the by-product was a vibrant economic development engine that will continue to contribute to downtown Lexington’s longevity and sustainability and serve as a model for other cities such as Tiffin, Ohio.