The city of Danville has won the 2014 Commercial Revitalization Plans & Streetscapes Award for its work in the River District. The award, given by the Virginia Downtown Development Association, recognizes excellence in physical design and planning for revitalization districts.
The association issued the award after reviewing the city’s efforts in the first phase of its streetscape project, the design guidelines developed and adopted for the district, and the parking study conducted for the full district.
“This recognition would not have been possible without the hard work of multiple city departments, the patience of River District merchants, and the support of the community,” said Corrie Teague, project manager for the Danville Office of Economic Development. “The River District is quickly transforming into an area that is attracting young professionals, entrepreneurs and families to our community. We are extremely proud of the progress we’ve made thus far.”
Founded in 1982, the Virginia Downtown Development Association is an independent association that focuses on the importance of Virginia's downtowns. Each year, it recognizes excellence in downtown revitalization.
In the category of commercial revitalization plans and streetscapes, the association considers physical design projects and planning such as streetscapes, public improvements, window displays, parking areas, wayfinding, parks, and preservation and design guidelines.
Construction on the first phase of the streetscape project began in September 2012 and ended in December 2013. This project took place on the 300, 400, and 500 blocks of Main Street. Here, the city widened sidewalks, installed brick pavers, created more visible and safer pedestrian crossings, upgraded utilities and placed trees, benches and new lighting. The city also installed public, outdoor Wi-Fi connections that are free to the public.
In May 2013, City Council adopted design guidelines for the River District, which generally consists of the traditional central business district, historic tobacco warehouse district and manufacturing area, and contiguous areas. The guidelines provide a framework within which the commission members can review applications and assist property owners to plan projects within the District. The guidelines address site and building improvements, new development, streetscapes and open space, site design, outdoor dining and signs.
In September 2013, City Council appointed seven members to the commission, which has reviewed 17 applications since October 2013.
Also in 2013, the consulting firm of Carl Walker Inc. was engaged to assess current parking conditions and to help plan for adequate parking needs as the River District develops. The firm analyzed the current parking inventory, performed analysis (parking, occupancy, and turnover), held stakeholders meetings, and conducted a public survey. They also worked directly with the Danville Office of Economic Development to project future building usage and associated parking needs.
Once the study was completed, the firm made recommendations regarding the location of parking structures or surface lots based on current and future development. Since the completion of this study, the city has purchased a number of properties in preparation for future parking demands.
These projects are part of the broader River District Development Project. Since 2006, there has been approximately $30 million of public investment with a return of approximately $90 million of private investment in this district, with much of the activity having taken place since the start of the River District Development Project.
The association presented the award this week during its annual conference, which this year was held in Roanoke.
In addition to the award for the city of Danville, the association this week named Karl Stauber, president and chief executive of the Danville Regional Foundation, as the winner of the John Marlles Commitment Award. This award recognized Stauber and the Danville Regional Foundation for their contributions to the redevelopment of the River District.