Our firm, in partnership with the Planning Alliance and Commerce Management Group, prepared a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) for the Corporation of the Town of Hearst. The CIP set out a plan to rejuvenate the community through emphasizing its well-established strengths and civic identity. It described a highly integrated design theme for the community, coupled with realistic financial incentives to property owners. Overall, the CIP sought to foster the renaissance of Hearst’s retail/service sector through a variety of detailed investment leveraging programs to empower Hearst’s entrepreneurs to forge new investments in themselves.
Incentives were offered for a range of items, from façade and parking area improvements to the sale of public lands for less than market value. Special programs were established to encourage the redevelopment of potential ‘brownfields’, or underused lands, which had previously been used for industrial or commercial development. Extra care was taken to ensure a high level of public participation in developing the CIP venues in the form of workshops, meetings, survey questionnaires, and online resources.
The CIP called for individual decision-making freedom, while providing design and leadership guidelines to ensure all improvements, from traffic calming measures to street furniture, harmonized with community-wide planning goals. These goals included linking the downtown area to nearby Highway 11; creating a unique brand; defining gateways to the downtown; greening and slowing down within the Highway Commercial Corridor; incorporating multifunctional elements of design; and maintaining community empowerment and design flexibility.
These goals capitalized on the existing civic node and took advantage of socio-economic synergies borne by the fusion of civic, commercial, and tourism activities. Theme concepts reflected the Hearst’s natural setting, industrial heritage, and northern ‘do-it-yourself’ character.