Downtown Master Plan vs. New Development

Yesterday, the Lincoln City Council decided to put the discussion of granting tax increment financing to a $45M hotel/retail development proposal on hold.   As you may have heard, there’s a conflict between the developer’s building design and the downtown master plan, which calls for a promenade, or pedestrian-friendly loop that goes right through the area of the proposed structure.

My initial reaction to this was a sense that there should be a fairly easy way that the two parties can come to a compromise that allows for the developer to materially maintain the original building plans while still providing an attractive pedestrian area around it and maintaining the spirit of the Master Plan.  Frankly, it would seem to me that developing such an intersection with this kind of project would be more in line with the plan’s “big picture” than leaving the existing parking lot, particularly when downtown development could sorely use a potential catalyst like the current proposal.  Perhaps this could be just the project to jump start a move toward the plan.  What good is a promenade down M Street & 11th Street if there aren’t any destinations for pedestrians in that immediate area?

While I applaud the idea of a downtown master plan and like what I’ve seen of it, if we want to move toward that reality, it would seem that occasionally, compromise on the details of the plan are necessary and advisable if such compromise advances a realization of the plan’s overall ideal, and I think that’s exactly the case here.

Here’s to hoping that in the time the city council has allotted the city and the developer there can be a mutually agreeable solution that both brings this development to fruition and moves us closer to the overarching goals of the Master Plan.

For those of you who are visual, and would like a better idea of this concept of a promenade loop and the area in question, here are all the details from the downtown master plan itself, including pictures and artist’s renderings of the area.  I do find it interesting that it would appear that only the east edge of this development would come into contact with the proposed promenade, which appears to be a loop bounded by R Street, Centennial Mall, M Street and 11th Street, while the proposed development would sit directly West of 11th Street, bounded by M and N.  Also, if you want an overhead look at the area to get your bearings, below is a google maps page bird’s eye view of the area–you can manually zoom to the 11th & M intersection to get the best look.

Comment away with your thoughts.


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