Everywhere you look, the City of Plant City and its economic development partners are on the move. Main Street Plant City is providing the legs for the city’s latest project, our downtown development plan.
“Timing is everything,” said Mayor Rick Lott at Main Street’s last regular monthly “Topics on Tap” meeting, attended by 70 or 75 tightly packed Plant Citians at The Corner Store.
Main Street and the city are moving on the strength of a recently competed plan whose drafting was spearheaded by the consulting firm Community Design Solutions. Vice Mayor Nate Kilton, not known for overstatement, said the plan is the result “of the best dollars I’ve ever seen spent on a consulting firm.”
Lott said that many Plant Citians working together had created a “vibe” about the plan. The city plans to ride that vibe, to keep meeting. As soon as the written plan is received, the commission will hold a workshop with Main Street’s leadership and community stakeholders. The product of that workshop will be an action plan to develop the downtown.
The consultants think it may take as long as 10 years to complete that plan, but Lott wants to lay down a challenge to Plant City.
“I think it can be done in three,” he said.
Main Street Chair Nick Thurston summarized the report, now viewable on YouTube as Plant City Final Presentation. The plan is based on a projection of growth in existing and new businesses that can be created by focusing on the population living in Plant City and up to a 15-minute drive from Plant City. It leads with a section on traffic calming and beautification with mature trees on main streets like Baker and Reynolds. The idea is to slow down vehicular traffic on our main streets so people will stop and visit the many existing and new businesses downtown. The traffic calming and beautification are entirely compatible with the possibility of making Baker and Reynolds two-way streets, which is under the control of the Florida Department of Transportation.
The city, chamber, EDC, and Main Street all have logos and brands. The plan recommends that the downtown project also have a logo and brand.
Another section, making McCall Park a strong destination lure for families and groups using downtown, will probably have to be done in multiple phases.
The beautification section will springboard from already-existing city grants, including facades and culinary grants. The consultants commended the city “for doing a great job” in this area.
A parking section led with the statement “If you don’t have a parking problem, you have a downtown problem,” and the plan suggests a downtown parking problem would be a good problem to have and address at the right time.
Mayor Lott closed his remarks with a promotional announcement, hinting that the city plans to make a major announcement about its Midtown development at a commission meeting in the near future.
That announcement should continue to move the city and Main Street forward as we implement this downtown development plan for the 2020 decade.