Friday, September 12, 2008

Downtown Development Grounded in Market Reality

A primary reason that Gateway Planning was chosen to complete the Downtown Owensboro Placemaking initiative is due to their demonstrated effectiveness in marrying downtown development and market forces. This marriage is the essence of placemaking.

Today, the Gateway team unveiled the elements of the downtown development program. The details of the plan can be found at the

The suggestion of public amenities and private investment in downtown are based on very rigorous economic analysis provided by Gateway team economist Jon Hockenyos. Hockenyos estimates and the master plan design revealed today show design for the downtown reflecting the market reality of downtown Owensboro with the following recommendations:
  • Approximately 300 to 500 residential units, which represents around 10% of the residential units that will be constructed in the metro area over the next 10 years. The design identifies four areas for mixed income housing in the downtown core that would promote a walkable urban envirornment. The plan also call for significant pedestrian linkages and even the possibility of an electric street car to connect downtown to amenities along Frederica street.

  • Approximately 250 to 300 hotels rooms in the core downtown, which would likely come with a new convention-caliber hotel and replace the Executive Inn. The design suggests that this could be leveraged in a couple of areas of downtown, many of which do not include the current Executive Inn property.

  • Approximately 40,000 to 70,000 square feet of convention space in a multi-purpose indoor event center that can accomodate business-caliber conventions and various sporting events. The plan offered various senarios for the location of a convention center, including a deisgn that does not require the Executive Inn property.

  • Mixed-use office and retail space based on market conditions and downtown housing development. The economic analysis suggests approximately 300,000 square feet of office and 100,000 to 150,000 square feet of retail/ restaurant space over the next 10 years, much of it leveraged across from the riverfront development park along Veteran's Blvd. and adjacent to the public amenities such as the convention center and hotel.

  • Public space for a Farmer's Market in the downtown core area that could become a year-round amenity and attract a whole foods shop or small-scale grocery. The design offers several options, including a newly created public green that connects the courthouse lawn to the riverfront park.

  • Museums and movie theatre to add to the entertainment appeal and enhance the retail and restaurant opporutnities. Increased investment in downtown musuems could enhance other elements of the downtown.

  • A privately financed outdoor event venue built to be baseball-friendly, the site plan call for this to be on a mix of public and private property.

  • Arts and cultural education center that would capitalize on the great fine arts education in the local schools, colleges, and universities programed in conjunction with the River Park Center Young Adult Theatre Academy the Owensboro Symphony Academy and other musuems.

To see specific renditions from the Gateway Planning Master Plan presentation, please visit

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