Tuesday, December 18, 2007

DIY Downtown Design Coming to Greensboro

At the last meeting for the Downtown Design compatibility manual, the steering committee agreed that we should fire the consulting firm that was supposed to be writing up our new downtown design guidelines.

Everyone in the group was a little surprised to hear from our city staff leader, Mary Sertell, that Cooper Carry, a prestigious Atlanta design firm, had failed to produce acceptable draft guidelines out of the materials we had sent them last summer. Cooper Carry had previously done good work here in producing Action Greensboro's conceptual plan for downtown. The city sent a termination notice on December 13, and Cooper Carry's contract will end on January 17, 2008.

The downtown design committee, which is composed of city staff and volunteers from the development community, Action Greensboro, Downtown Greensboro, Inc., and regular citizens like me, earlier had agreed on a "geographical" approach to downtown design. We mapped out zones in the central city with distinctive features and building types, and turned our findings over to Cooper Carry. They were supposed to develop design guidelines for each zone.

Firing Cooper Carry will save the city, Downtown Greensboro, Inc., and Action Greensboro somewhere in the neighborhood of $90,000 dollars, but the group and city staff are going to have to roll up our sleeves and do a lot more work.

Some prominent downtown developers suggested we look at the successful design manuals of cities like Charlotte and Durham, and adapt the ideas that we think work best. And that's where we're going to start.

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