Providing a city with a community engagement, visioning, and scenario-building process
The City of Allen, Texas, experienced significant growth in the past decade. However, like many smaller cities in the US, growth has occurred mostly in outlying areas, or along major highway axes. This has left the historic downtown behind in terms of development. Though containing appealing legacy elements such as the Heritage Village, Heritage Center, and library, there was little to link them. Allen City Council wanted a more inclusive planning approach. That’s where we came in with a comprehensive planning, consultation, and communications process. For this, we led a highly interactive community engagement process in close collaboration with the Downtown Stakeholder Committee.
Our team of community development and communication experts held multiple community engagement workshops, downtown business workshops, and one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders. We used our “Six Word Story” technique to hone in on common themes on the desired future for downtown Allen, a technique particularly effective with high school students. We also deployed our community engagement software on the city’s website to provide updates and gather additional input through an online survey and an online ideas-board. We then engaged with the community during a “Design Weekend,” focusing on what people would like to see in the downtown. One activity used Lego bricks and an aerial map to show different scenarios for development. Based on these engagements, three scenarios of varying intensity for development were created for consideration.
The resulting Downtown Redevelopment Plan features a community-driven vision, goals, a preferred development scenario, and a strategic implementation program. The plan protects historical and cultural assets and links businesses to businesses, neighborhoods to Main Street, and the downtown to the region.
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