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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Launching the DREAM in downtown Monett

Friday, May 6, 2011

Street surveying of downtown Monett for the DREAM Initiative started yesterday. Project Manager Patrick Hanlon, at left, documented the downtown buildings photographically while colleague Mike Cunnings recorded building details on a computer. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
The Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) Initiative was officially launched in Monett on Wednesday with a public meeting explaining how the effort will proceed.

Patrick Hanlon, project manager from the urban planning firm of Peckham Guyton Albers and Viets (PGAV), led the kick-off meeting and walked the crowd of about 50 people through the different areas of focus in the DREAM effort. He showed artist renderingS of how various downtown storefronts could be transformed by unveiling new looks for the original facades.

Hanlon introduced Kimberly Martin, community development program manager for the Missouri Development Finance Board, which pays for the work done by PGAV. Martin said the DREAM goal is to provide a "one stop shop" for planning downtown improvement. The combination of resources makes possible gains that towns would have difficulty reaching on their own.

"Legislatively, it's impossible to get public funds to a private business owner," Martin said. "The more you are willing to do, the more you can leverage state money. It's the big picture that we're looking for."

"A little public money has stimulated a lot of private investment," Hanlon said.

Forty cities have participated in the DREAM process since the program started in 2006. Hanlon said cities that have graduated from the program will hopefully continue the assessment of their resources and development started under DREAM.

Hanlon and his colleague Mike Cunnings, a geographic information systems specialist, started their work mapping out the downtown buildings and documenting their use yesterday. Hanlon took photos while Cunnings used a hand-held computer to log in building uses and layout.

The team planned to create around 18 maps detailing the building resources. In a subsequent survey, Hanlon planned to document the streetscape, showing the decorative street lights, seating and off-street parking.

Documenting use of the upper stories of buildings proved to be the most difficult part of the visual review, Hanlon said. He recorded whether the upper level is in use, the type of use and the potential for housing. Hanlon hoped that even after the DREAM process concludes, city officials will continue to track active building use to maximize the utilization of local resources.

At the Wednesday meeting, Hanlon talked about finding ways to sustain the gains made through DREAM. PGAV has architects, urban planners and destination planners on staff who will apply their perspective to Monett's situation.

The scope of the DREAM review would include a comprehensive market analysis. Their work will look at the downtown and surrounding area, identifying trade areas and conduct quantitative analysis of demographic and economic conditions and provide relevant information and analysis for use in strategy development.

Hanlon anticipated interest in the building and streetscape design guidelines study. The process included: * Creating integrated streetscape design addressing aesthetics, pedestrian/bicycle/ automobile mobility and growth.

* Creating building design guidelines for use as standards for development and redevelopment of downtown structures.

* Preserving the character and a unique sense of place that is inherent in downtown.

If some building owners begin making improvements early in the process, Hanlon said the DREAM process had the flexibility to help that work move forward.

"Among the traits of successful DREAM communities, communication is the most important," Hanlon said. "Ownership of the process leads to results."

The next step will involve organizing focus groups to find different points of view, goals and visions for the downtown Monett. Hanlon expected to spend the next two weeks planning and setting dates. City officials will send out letters inviting people to participate. Hanlon hopes to organize six different focus groups for discussion and input.

Surveys would be concluded later to expand the input. Later, the process would include developing a communications map to keep the community informed and engaged during the planning and implementation process. Planners would move toward unifying the community's vision, tying together all previous planning elements and identifying opportunities and challenges.

Around 50 people attended the Wednesday meeting, many of whom were business owners. Hanlon was pleased by the degree of interest shown and hoped to sustain their involvement.

One of those in attendance was Jeff Barber, an architect and specialist in housing and environmental design with the University of Missouri Extension Service, who had coordinated work by the Drury University architecture students who developed the Vision 2030 plan in 2009. Barber was pleased to see the depth DREAM planners were taking at this early stage, and he looked forward to seeing their subsequent work.

"This is going to be fun for the next few years and beyond," Hanlon added.

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I am so proud of Monett for having this vision and moving forward. My dad was a city commissioner in the 70's and would be so pleased to see the town he loved finding new ways to energize and prosper. Monett will always feel like home and I am anxious to watch the progress of this project.

-- Posted by tornbc on Tue, May 10, 2011, at 9:39 AM

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