How do you reclaim useable spaces that have been bisected by state highways?
The downtown core in Morganton, North Carolina, functions as the county seat and gateway to the Blue Ridge mountains. The problem? Decades ago it was decimated by a pair of state highways. These state roads traverse downtown as two one-way pairs, surrounding the historic courthouse square and destroying any traces of retail opportunity.
Nearly two decades ago, the City began the path to recovery with a downtown plan, and today they’re working with our team to update and refine their previous vision.
Using a series of incremental, short-term strategies partnered with larger, long-term investments, we helped the stakeholders focus on their historic Courthouse Square and its immediate surroundings—both within that core and in the connections to it.
The plan tackles the difficult but necessary decision to turn the one-way state highways into two-way main streets. The next steps? Restoring retail and restaurant activity, promoting investments in public spaces, and rationalizing the parking strategy. And, by capturing the energy of an active arts community throughout downtown and identifying key development and redevelopment opportunities, the plan will make the downtown core more enjoyable and welcoming.
The plan was adopted by the City of Morganton in February 2018. Once the plan becomes fully implemented, Morganton will once again be a captivating gateway to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge mountains.
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