Mas­ter plan­ning

UGA work­shop up­dates plans for down­town

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

The re­sults of a UGA work­shop on the up­date of Cov­ing­ton’s Down­town Mas­ter Plan paint a very at­trac­tive pic­ture for the fu­ture of the city’s down­town, though that fu­ture hinges on the avail­abil­ity of fund­ing to im­ple­ment the Mas­ter Plan.

The work­shop, or “ char­rette,” was led by fourthyear land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dents with UGA who have spent the past se­mes­ter study­ing ur­ban de­sign un­der the tute­lage of En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign In­struc­tor Randy Vin­son at the univer­sity’s de­sign stu­dio in Clark’s Grove.

In up­dat­ing Cov­ing­ton’s Down­town Mas­ter Plan, the stu­dents fo­cused on five spe­cific prop­er­ties/ projects within the down­town study area.

Those five projects are the dried In­dian Creek green­way from U. S. High­way 278 to Ivy Street, con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­ties on Stallings and Usher Street, Emory Street from U. S. High­way 278 to Wash­ing­ton Street, a pos­si­ble neigh­bor­hood park on Cony­ers and Reynolds Street and a pos­si­ble mixe­duse de­vel­op­ment be­tween Pace and Elm Street.

The re­sults of the three­day char­rette were shared with the pub­lic at a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion at The Cen­ter for Com­mu­nity Preser­va­tion and Plan­ning Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Ja­cob Lind­sey, an alum­nus of the UGA de­sign stu­dio and a land­scape ar­chi­tect, told the gath­ered crowd while the cur­rent hous­ing slump and re­ces­sion might make the prospect of re­vi­tal­iz­ing Cov­ing­ton’s down­town with trendy bou­tique shops and am­ple green space seem un­likely, it was im­por­tant to put the proper plans in place now, so that when fund­ing and a de­mand for new hous­ing and shop­ping ameni­ties re­turns, the city is pre­pared for it.

UGA stu­dents rec­om­mended the po­ten­tial com­mu­nity park in Har­ris­town be built with plenty of night light­ing to dis­cour­age the park be­com­ing a place for delin­quent ac­tiv­i­ties.

In their plans the stu­dents also rec­om­mended keep­ing all of the site’s healthy trees while cut­ting down the dead ones.

A pavil­ion where fam­ily re­unions and church groups could meet was also rec­om­mended. The site of the po­ten­tial park is owned by de­vel­oper Lee Dur­den who would like to build a mixed-use de­vel­op­ment across the street from the park. Dur­den is con­tem­plat­ing a pub­lic/private ini­tia­tive for the park.

For the dried In­dian Creek green­way, UGA stu­dents ad­vo­cated “an emer­ald neck­lace” with larger parcels of green space rep­re­sent­ing jew­els in the neck­lace linked by strands or trails and walk­ways.

Stu­dents rec­om­mended a two-story mixed use de­vel­op­ment build­ing be built in the space be­tween the train tracks and the dried In­dian Creek at the site of an old car wash. Stu­dents rec­om­mended the build­ing be tucked back into the trees to give the space more char­ac­ter. Com­mer­cial and re­tail space were rec­om­mended for the bot­tom of the build­ing with apart­ments and of­fice space tak­ing up the top floor.

More side­walks were the main ad­vise­ment for stu­dents fo­cus­ing on bring­ing more con­nec­tiv­ity to gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­ties in the down­town. A two-story park­ing garage was rec­om­mended for the space next to the new Ju­di­cial Cen­ter. The space is now va­cant and was, un­til re­cently, oc­cu­pied by a dry clean­ers.

Stu­dents work­ing on the re­de­vel­op­ment of Pace Street from the Cov­ing­ton Square to U.S. High­way 278 rec­om­mended a mix­ture of trendy town homes and high-den­sity mixed-use de­vel­op­ment build­ings for the space.

“ The fur­ther away from down­town, the less friendly it felt,” said UGA stu­dent Kenny Thompson of the Pace Street com­mer­cial area.

Lind­sey said there was a high de­mand for artist space and more art gal­leries which could be met with more mixe­duse de­vel­op­ments in the Pace Street area.

Through­out the pre­sen­ta­tion, stu­dents echoed one an­other in their rec­om­men­da­tions of raised cross­walks to cut down on the speed of cars driv­ing through pedes­trian and res­i­den­tial ar­eas, more street trees to beau­tify the area and more side­walks to en­cour­age con­nec­tiv­ity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

The UGA stu­dents will be fin­ish­ing up their rec­om­men­da­tions for Cov­ing­ton’s Down­town Mas­ter Plan in the next two weeks. Once com­plete the up­dated plan will be pre­sented to the Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil and New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers for con­sid­er­a­tion.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Down to the de­tails: UGA Land­scape Ar­chi­tect stu­dents Andy Gray­check, left, and Kenny Thompson re­view ideas on a de­sign plan cre­ated for pos­si­ble fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of the old Wal- Mart prop­erty lo­cated be­hind Cov­ing­ton Ford with the prop­erty owner Matt Crowe, far right, and area in­vestor Clay New­man Tues­day evening.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

The plan: Ad­junct Pro­fes­sor of UGA School of En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign Hank Metvin, left, UGA Land­scape Ar­chi­tect stu­dent Travis Bar­ron and lo­cal landowner Lee Dur­den look at maps as they dis­cuss fu­ture plans for de­vel­op­ment of a park ad­ja­cent to Har­ris­town on prop­erty owned by Lee Dur­den dur­ing a char­rette at The Cen­ter for Com­mu­nity Preser­va­tion and Plan­ning Tues­day evening.

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