City of Owensboro plans to back downtown master plan

At its first meeting of 2009 on Tuesday, the Owensboro City Commission is expected to pass a municipal order officially declaring its support for the downtown master plan being produced by Gateway Planning Group. 

The plan spells out an $80 million package of projects for Owensboro’s downtown including a mixed use indoor events center and “market square” plaza that are designed to boost downtown development. 

The order states that the city commission “declares that the implementation of the Plan is a priority for City Government and directs City Government to work diligently to determine the best method or methods of implementing and financing the public projects recommended by the Gateway Planning Group.”

Here is the illustrative plan Gateway has put together that will be backed up by the complete, 200-plus-page plan expected to be completed in the next few weeks. 

Also next week, Daviess Fiscal Court is expected to adopt a similar resolution expecting its support for the downtown master plan. 

And new Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire will be delivering speeches at the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce’s Rooster Booster breakfast on Thursday to provide an update on what lies ahead for city government. 

That breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. in the community room at Owensboro Christian Church.

Evansville stadium board to make recommendation

The Roberts Stadium Advisory Board will be making a recommendation to the Evansville City Council and Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel this month about the future of the 52-year-old arena, the Courier-Press is reporting. 

According to a recent article by reporter Jimmy Nesbitt, the board will meet tonight and again on Dec. 16 to hear presentations about the economic impact of a new 10,000-seat stadium on the area, receive public comment and then make its recommendation. 

A consultant who looked at the impact of a new arena on Evansville found that a new facility should be part of a broader downtown revitalization plan – an idea that has gained momentum in Owensboro. 

Whatever Evansville decides to do will no doubt have an impact on Owensboro’s plans for its own downtown, which are coming together with a formal downtown master plan presented in draft form last month and expected to be adopted early next year by the Owensboro City Commission and Daviess Fiscal Court. 

That plan calls for an initial investment of $80 million by the public sector for a list of projects including a downtown convention center that could also host sporting events.

Owensboro community gets another look at downtown master plan

The Gateway Planning Group presented the end result of their week of planning, listening and designing Friday at The RiverPark Center. 

The standing-room crowd in the Holbrook Balcony at the center saw a vision of downtown that included an outdoor events center adjacent to a revitalized waterfront district that Gateway President Scott Polikov described as a “grand public room.”

Take a look at the renderings, designs and plans Gateway produced for the master plan, which will be refined over the next two months in preparation for another presentation at Kentucky Wesleyan College on Nov. 15, the anniversary of last year’s We the People town meeting

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. has also provided a roundup of many of the ideas offered by Gateway on its blog.

Master plans vs. developments

Members of the Urban County Council in Fayette County are raising concerns about the lack of influence a downtown master plan appears to have on development in the city’s core.

According to an an article by the Herald-Leader’s Beverly Fortune, council members on Tuesday questioned the head of the city’s Downtown Development Authority about why Lexington’s $500,000 master plan adopted last year didn’t stop the demolition of historic buildings and allowed for the approval of a 35-story hotel and condominium project.

Owensboro and Daviess County have commissioned their own downtown master plan to help guide development, and are looking to that plan to offer some guidance on the development of the Executive Inn Rivermont property as well as the downtown core as a whole.

The plan is being developed by Gateway Planning Group, which will hold community design workshops Sept. 8-12 to solicit input from the public on how downtown should develop.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Owensboro City Commission, city officials backed the drafting and passage of a resolution that would signal the city’s commitment to working with a developer who agrees to work within the downtown master plan and its vision for how that area should develop.

It appears the plan for Owensboro will have some of the same goals as Lexington’s plan, which city officials there described “as a road map expected to play a vital role in downtown’s renaissance.”

But differences between the plans appear to exist as well – Lexington’s plan was paid for by private money, while the city and county governments here have a financial stake in the plan.

It will be interesting to see what provisions, if any, Owensboro’s plan has to remedy any conflicts that arise between the plan’s contents and a developer’s vision, as has happened in Lexington.