Monday, March 17, 2008

EDC to Facilitate Community “Place Making Strategy”

EDC will facilitate the development of a bold urbanization and comprehensive implementation strategy to foster “Economic Development through Place Making” for the region.

The process will create a customized team of professional experts in town planning, urban design, public-private financing, and community facilitation. The strategy will be tailored to local needs promoting economic growth and development, focusing on downtown and new destinations, such as around the proposed hospital location. In addition to the EDC, the process will work in conjunction with the newly created Downtown Development Authority and the Downtown Development Corp.

During the past 12 months the community has been engaged in a vibrant discussion of how to make the region more attractive to people. Much focus has been on the development of downtown Owensboro. Others have focused on amenities such as retail, recreational, and entertainment venues both in downtown and in new destinations such as near the new hospital and highway 54. A top priority from the “We the People” process was to transform downtown and insist on a well planned suburban expansion. An urbanization strategy is a key component of the newly adopted City of Owensboro Strategic Vision and a priority for the Daviess County Fiscal Court.

“There is a phenomenal global competition for capital to fuel economic growth in our world today,” said EDC President/CEO Nick Brake. “More now than ever, capital is defined as people or more specifically talent. And the key to attracting talent is livability. This is true for young professionals, growing families, as well as the retiring baby boomers—the key to making any community attractive over the next 20 years for over 20 million people is livability.”

“We want to facilitate a process for the community focusing our efforts on a concept called ‘place making’—attracting people with an attractive place,” said EDC Board Chair Darrell Higginbotham. “We are clearly at a critical crossroads in making Owensboro the place that attracts people.”

“The timing is right for an initiative like this,” said Fred Reeves, Executive Director of Downtown Development. “This effort will put our ideas into practice using professional expertise with a roadmap of how to make it happen.”

The implementation strategy will:

  • combine the disciplines of town planning, urban design, public-private financing, and community facilitation, focusing first and foremost on implementation

  • include form-based codes and transportation strategies that harness the market’s ability to sustain growth

  • tie together a physical implementation strategy for downtown development; new destinations that build on the history of regional entertainment; and the integration of in-town neighborhoods and employment.

  • focus on downtown Owensboro as a key player in driving growth and reinvestment in the region. Downtown is critical to the development of a long-term, sustainable growth policy for the region.

The EDC looked at several planning groups and development organizations around the country in order to find a customized team for Owensboro. Two experts will visit Owensboro and meet with several groups this week.

Scott Polikov of Gateway Planning in Texas and Michael Huston of Wallace Roberts & Todd, an urban designer who grew up in Owensboro and graduated from Owensboro Catholic High School will form a core of the team. Other members of the team will include an economist/ market analyst, an expert in retail, entertainment venues and convention centers, a professional planner with understanding of zoning and code development, a transportation engineer, and an expert in downtown residential housing.

“The team approach is very flexible,” said Brake. “Any consultant or existing feasibility study can easily be plugged into the work of the team.”

“It will cost money,” said Higginbotham. “And it is our hope that private individuals and corporate citizens of the community can pull together to fund this effort with the EDC and other groups working as facilitators and implementers.”

The initiative will initially focus on the following tasks:

  1. Initial infrastructure capacity analysis, streetscape and architectural assets and market assessment, including an identification of key civic, employment, residential, preservation assets.

  2. Initial key stakeholder outreach

  3. Assessment of regulatory (codes), policy, taxing structure and Certified Institute of Planners (CIP) context

  4. Market analysis and trends development scenario identified for baseline

  5. Transportation, connectivity, parking and pedestrian assessment

  6. Assessment of downtown housing opportunities

  7. Community design workshop

  8. Development of downtown master plan

  9. Fiscal impact and capacity analysis for incentives

  10. Identification/support for catalytic projects

  11. Development/support of RFQ for developer of arena/hotel/entertainment destination

  12. Development of Form-Based Code

  13. Community meetings/support for adoption of master plan, code and incentives program

  14. Refinement downtown management structure and support for RFQ process for developer of catalytic project.

The public reception and discussion about the “Economic Development through Place Making” Strategy will be held on Wednesday, March 19 at Emerging Ventures Center for Innovation on the Third Floor of the Commerce Center.

To make an investment or financial contribution to the Place Making Strategy Fund, please contact Melissa Shelton at 926.4339 or go to and press "Donate."

For more information about "Place Making" please visit the following links:;;;

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