Friday, November 14, 2008

The Transformation of Downtown Owensboro

Downtown Owensboro is undergoing a transformation. A new proposed master plan, the result of an intensive placemaking process led by the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp and Downtown Development Corp., will result in a significant local investment over the next 5 years to match the $40 million federal investment in the Owensboro riverfront.

The recommended Phase I public amenities and private investment in downtown are based on very rigorous economic analysis provided by the Gateway Planning team from Ft. Worth, TX. Gateway was engaged by the community to complete the downtown master plan.

Transformation of Veterans Blvd. -- Veterans Blvd. will be reinvented to be a pedestrian priority street with specialty paving, flat curbs, on-street parking, and street scape amenities. Infill buildings on Veterans Blvd. should be 3-4 story mixed use buildings with active retail and restaurant uses on the ground floor and residential uses above. Veterans Blvd. would act as a linear plaza connecting the RiverPark Center to the new hotel and Indoor Events Center.

Market Square Public Plaza-- A new public plaza that connects 2nd Street to the Veterans Blvd. and the new Waterfront Park is envisioned. In addition to being the new center of community life in Owensboro, this new plaza would also house the Farmers’ Market. The market stalls, cafe seating, retail sales kiosks will all activate this space. In addition the new hotel and the new Indoor Events Center will all have direct access to this plaza. This plaza is the city’s “Grand Gesture” to the river and truly connects the city to its roots.

Second Street Reinvented -- Second Street will be converted to a vibrant, pedestrian friendly, two-way, main street. With curb extensions, renovated historic buildings, and active ground floor uses, this street will once again become the true heart of downtown.

New Waterfront Park -- The improvements to the Waterfront Park as envisioned in the Riverfront Master Plan will be completed and this park will be a destination park for residents and visitors alike. Together with the metamorphosis of Veterans Blvd., this park will be the cornerstone of a revitalized Downtown Owensboro.

New Downtown Hotel -- A new 225-room downtown hotel is envisioned at the intersection of Frederica Street and Veterans Blvd. Its location will be strategic to take advantage of river views, access to the adjoining Indoor Events Center, and the new Market Square Public Plaza. It will reinforce the activities on the Plaza with retail and restaurant uses on the ground floor.

Multi-Purpose Indoor Events Center -- This will be a major flexible meeting facility and will be have high ceilings that accommodates indoor sporting events and an internal capacity of up to 80,000 sq. ft. It will be located next to the new hotel and Market Square Public Plaza. Users of this facility will have direct access to the new Waterfront Park, Veterans Blvd. and 2nd Street

Frederica Street Redefined -- Frederica Street is envisioned to be a true multi-modal boulevard and gateway into downtown. With a streetcar connecting all the major destinations along Frederica, the street will truly transformed into Owensboro’s “Champs-Elysees”.

East Downtown Cultural Arts District -- Existing historic buildings along East 2nd Street can be the focus of new adaptive reuse for arts and cultural uses. This area would be ideal for the location of the new Arts Education center, a partnership of local arts groups and educational institutions. A vibrant local arts scene would be complemented by residential lofts, studios, apartments, and townhomes transitioning to adjoining neighborhoods.

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