Westerville Looking to the Future with Comprehensive Plan for Uptown
Westerville is not looking to add large numbers of residents, offices or retail to their core the way some other central Ohio suburbs are (Dublin, Upper Arlington and Gahanna are three good examples). The city is, however, interested in ensuring that its existing historic town center — with its charming mix of small shops and restaurants clustered along State Street — continues to flourish long into the future. That’s the goal behind a planning process started last fall that the city is calling Plan Uptown.
The process so far has focussed more on incremental changes meant to address concerns about parking, traffic flow, and a lack of public spaces without compromising the small-town charm of the district.
Recommendations include adding bump-outs and other amenities to improve the pedestrian experience on State Street, as well as streetscape improvements for Main Street and College Avenue, two streets that serve as gateways to Otterbein University. A proposal to build new public alleys with improved pedestrian connections to State Street has also been well received by the community.
The plan will also recommend a study to explore the possibility of the State Theater returning to its original use as either a theater or performance space.
“There has not been discussion specifically about density, but the plan will advocate an increased mix of housing types, including renovations of upper floor spaces as well as infill development,” said Westerville Senior Planner Bassem Bitar. “The scale and density of the latter will depend on the physical setting with higher densities likely along major streets.”
Three public open houses have been held so far, and they have been well-attended, according to Bitar. The city has also been pleased with the use of a new tool; a website designed specifically to stimulate conversation and generate new ideas among local residents. Local firm MKSK was retained to assist with the plan and recommended the platform.
“The PlanUpotwn website has also been very well received and has resulted in many great comments and ideas being shared,” said Bitar. “Input from stakeholders, steering committee members and members of the public has been incorporated in the development of the plan’s preliminary proposals.”
More information can be found at www.planuptown.com.
Renderings and Images via MKSK / PlanUptown.com.