From visioning to implementation, public input was an integral element of the Bridge Street District Plan. The goal of the planning process was to meaningfully build on the planning effort of the 2007 Dublin Community Plan while studying the emerging demographic trends and development opportunities. Years of effort by area residents, businesses and other stakeholders in developing the city-wide comprehensive plan resulted in a strong foundation for which the Bridge Street District Plan provides additional detail and refinement. Although public comment from the Community Plan was used as a starting point, a community education and input process included interviews and ongoing dialogue with property owners, public meetings, and broader community engagement through public open houses, design charrettes, and a series of presentations by internationally known speakers and experts.
Community Plan Background
The 2007 Dublin Community Plan was one of the most significant planning studies ever undertaken by the City of Dublin and was characterized by the comprehensive and highly detailed land use, transportation, demographic, fiscal, infrastructure, and facility analyses that informed much of the preliminary analysis for the Bridge Street District Plan.
The 2007 Community Plan included two special planning areas within the area covered by the Bridge Street District Plan: the Historic Dublin Area Plan, and the Sawmill/SR 161 Area Plan. These two area plans built on even earlier planning efforts, most notably the Old Dublin and Tuller Road area plans of the 1997 Community Plan. The Bridge Street Corridor Study, described below, comprehensively explored these areas in addition to the area west of the Historic District including the OCLC campus and the Frantz Road/Post Road/US 33 intersection that was not previously studied as part of a special area plan.
The Bridge Street Corridor Study
In September 2008, members of City Council, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and City staff visited Greenville, South Carolina. The trip allowed Dublin decision makers to see a community that demonstrated many of the principles and design objectives of the 2007 Dublin Community Plan that might be incorporated into the Bridge Street District. Specific projects in Greenville include an award winning pedestrian bridge that was part of the city’s riverfront development, which included a healthy mix of residential, office, and retail/restaurant uses. They also walked the city’s Main Street and viewed extensive public art displays, historic districts, and new downtown housing.
These developments helped inform the City about how to deal with development proposals in and around the Historic District, the need for a new and better future for several struggling auto-oriented shopping center sites, and exciting possibilities centering around the redevelopment of the OCLC campus. Gradually, a unified vision for this key part of Dublin began to form. To begin the planning effort, the City engaged Goody Clancy and Associates in May 2009 to manage a visioning study for the Bridge Street Corridor.
A key objective of the Bridge Street Corridor Study was to develop a better understanding of the emerging trends expected to have a major effect on development in Dublin and throughout the region and nation in the coming decades. Consistent with its tradition, Dublin once again found itself at the forefront of planning for these emerging opportunities.
One of the most unique and effective elements of the Bridge Street Corridor Study planning process was the speaker series held at the outset. Internationally recognized experts on the changing nature of commercial development markets, shifting demographics, and future economic development and employment trends were brought to Dublin to share their insights with the community. (Refer to “Responding to Changing Market Demands” for more information about their key messages.)
Christopher Leinberger, author of The Option of Urbanism—Investing in a New American Dream, is an internationally recognized land use strategist, developer and market researcher. Grounded in many years of private sector development experience and one of the founders of RCL and Associates, he is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., where his research focuses on practices that help transform traditional and suburban downtowns into walkable, urban places.
Carol Coletta, formerly the President and CEO of CEOs for Cities, (now with ArtPlace) is an expert on national urban issues and has hosted NPR’s Smart Cities program for ten years. Ms. Coletta described the importance of talent attraction and retention to regional economic prosperity, the types of environments that employers increasingly seek to attract talented employees, and the types of development Dublin will need to attract the high-tech and entrepreneurial jobs of the future.
David Dixon, FAIA, Principal-in-charge of Planning and Urban Design with Goody Clancy & Associates, served as the Principal Urban Designer for the Bridge Street Corridor Study. A nationally recognized urban designer, David was also a key member of the consulting team, along with Mt. Auburn Associates, that helped form Dublin’s foundational economic development strategy in the early 1990s.
Laurie Volk, Principal-in-charge of Zimmerman/Volk Associates, analyzed the local housing market using her proven methodology that uses demographic data to identify emerging residential market opportunities. Ms. Volk discussed her national research on what she calls the “Pig in the Python” effect—76 million baby boomers and their 75 million adult children, the “Millennials”—slowly migrating from suburbs into cities and suburban town centers, seeking the expanded range of lifestyle choices they offer.
Sarah Woodworth, Managing Member of W-ZHA, LLC, shared her findings on commercial and hospitality market demand in and around Dublin, and how the right blend of land uses can dramatically enhance the potential for high-quality development. With more than 20 years of experience, she specializes in market and financial feasibility analysis, cooperative public/private development agreement structuring, innovative public financing strategies, and urban revitalization.
Visioning Charrette and Public Open House
An “Issues and Opportunities” public open house held in the fall of 2009 enabled Goody Clancy and Associates to gather community input on the existing challenges and opportunities facing the Bridge Street Corridor. Following the speaker series, a visioning charrette was held in December 2009, which challenged participants to imagine a new future for the Bridge Street Corridor using the information the speakers shared about the changing market trends and resulting opportunities.
Key Vision Concepts Discussed By Participants:
- High-quality design remains a critical component of redevelopment. Higher-density development of up to 4 or 5 stories is appropriate in specific parts of the study area, provided it demonstrates high-quality design and sensitivity to the existing built and natural contexts. This context sensitivity is particularly important in and adjacent to the Historic District.
- Access to natural features should be a cornerstone of the Bridge Street Corridor Vision. The community treasures the Scioto River, Indian Run, and the city’s bike path and park network in and around the Bridge Street Corridor. These green assets should be enhanced and incorporated into any development that occurs in the Bridge Street Corridor.
- Development should focus on accommodating future transit services. In addition to alternative transportation choices in the short term, including bike paths and public transportation, longer-term transit opportunities, including light rail and regional transit connections, should be anticipated and accounted for through the creation of transit-oriented development.
- A comprehensive approach to traffic, parking, and pedestrian access is necessary in Historic Dublin. Historic Dublin is a treasured community centerpiece that needs better walking conditions and parking availability in order to truly thrive. Deploying urban design and streetscape improvements to reduce the perception and negative impacts of high traffic flow on Bridge Street through the Historic District will help strengthen the walkability and character of Historic Dublin.
In addition to the speaker series and public meetings, Goody Clancy and Associates cast a wide net in their efforts to determine the community’s longer term development objectives. The Goody Clancy team initiated the public planning process by interviewing over 100 individual and institutional stakeholders, including:
• City Council members
• Planning and Zoning Commission members
• Architectural Review Board members
• Dublin City Schools leadership
• Bridge Street Corridor residents and property owners
• Business owners
• Major Dublin employers
• Young professionals who live and work in Dublin
• Members of the local development community
• Members of local design firms
• City staff, including Land Use and Long Range Planning, Engineering, Economic Development, Parks and Open Space, and Finance
The stakeholder interviews provided the consulting team with a strong understanding of the community’s values and a sense of the opportunities and challenges facing the Bridge Street Corridor. Following the initial interviews, ongoing meetings with property owners and developers gave the consulting team a better sense of near-term development opportunities.
Analysis of Previous Plans and Studies
In addition to a comprehensive analysis of emerging national trends that are expected to relate directly to Dublin, the Bridge Street Corridor Study built upon Dublin’s solid planning traditions, reinforcing concepts articulated in a number of previous and ongoing planning efforts, including:
• 2007 and 1997 Dublin Community Plans
• 2010 Parks and Recreation Master Plan
• 2008 Historic Dublin Market Assessment and Implementation Plan
• 2005 Draft Historic Dublin Revitalization Plan
• Historic Dublin Design Guidelines
• Historic Dublin parking studies (2001 and 2010)
• Engineering studies on various Bridge Street traffic improvements
• Historic Dublin Wayfinding plan
• Recent Dublin community and business surveys
Realizing the Bridge Street Corridor Vision
The culmination of the planning efforts was the Bridge Street Corridor Study Vision Report, officially adopted by City Council on October 25, 2010 as Resolution 50-10. The Vision Report included the Vision Statement, five Vision Principles, and an Implementation Strategy. The resolution also served as the foundation for City Council’s annual goals related to the completion and implementation of the Bridge Street District planning efforts. Information from these previous planning efforts has been refined and integrated into the 2012 update to the Dublin Community Plan as the Bridge Street District Special Area Plan.