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Fayetteville planners discuss new Downtown Urban Design Plan

Plan looks to expand ‘the downtown feel’ beyond Hay Street and its intersections


City of Fayetteville staff members on Thursday night presented phase one of a new downtown urban design plan during a community meeting that was held virtually online.

Residents and business owners were encouraged to share their visions for the implementation of a new footprint that would spread downtown out to foster more growth and to build a larger center district for Fayetteville.

About 90 people joined in the Zoom call for the discussion.

The Downtown Urban Design Plan looks to expand "the downtown feel" beyond Hay Street and its intersections. The difference, according to a city news release, would be a district experience versus a main street.

“Development Services staff will use the Downtown Plan to create new guidance for streetscapes, buildings, residences, parking and more,” the release said. “In the future, people should feel more engaged with streetside surroundings and inspired to stay and explore.”

The initial phase of the plan implementation includes Thursday’s community meeting and proposed changes to the downtown footprint.

“We’re going to be sharing with you how we’re increasing the footprint of this downtown from just a main street to a district,” said Jerry Newton, director of the city’s Development Services. “How we’re changing from distinct little zones that we have in place to a large district that allows all kinds of uses to create greater flexibility. So we have more than one use by lot. We’re going to have multiple uses permitted.

“We can do the things that the city and council has indicated both two years ago and then on Dec. 1,” Newton said. “Let’s do everything that we can to make this city and the downtown and a downtown area vibrant, grow and allow that activity. That said, we have a very active district.”

The plan that’s in place, Newton said, has its roots in the idea that things needed to be done to help the downtown baseball stadium area.

“That’s underway,” he said.

The second item that we had "was to look at expanding the area and make the reaches better. Come up with more uses,” said Newton. “Allow more activity.”

Craig Harmon, a senior planner with the city, said more than 840 properties will be affected by the rezonings for the expanded downtown district footprint.

The Downtown Urban Design Plan was designed to guide development and investment in downtown Fayetteville over the coming years, Harmon said. In 2017, Fayetteville was awarded a $100,000 grant from the state legislature. With that money, a consulting group was hired – and overseen by Urban Design Consultant Associates – and that firm led the process of developing the downtown plan.

In February 2020, Fayetteville City Council held a public hearing and adopted the plan, Harmon said. In December, the City Council directed staff to start the implementation process.

This month, he added, letters were sent to all of the owners of the properties that would be impacted by the rezonings.

The biggest part of phase one, Harmon said, would be the downtown rezoning.

“The plan is already done,” he said during the Zoom call. “It’s already in place. This plan does not change anything with the downtown historic district. … What we’re looking at tonight will have no bearing on the downtown fire district, as well.”

Currently, downtown has a half-dozen different district uses within its two zoning districts. Their boundaries stretch from the Rowan Street bridge to around the ABC package store on Person Street, from around the CVS pharmacy on Ramsey Street to the Cumberland County Detention Center on Gillespie Street.

“What our plan calls for is those six districts to be consolidated into two,” he said. “You’ll have a Downtown 1 district, which is basically what our downtown district is now, and then a Downtown 2 district that hopes to stretch the downtown off of that. Within these boundaries, we have everything from residential to office to commercial to industrial.

“The main thing the rezoning is looking to do is help with one, cohesiveness, and two, some predictability for property owners,” he said. In the process, it would create a more uniform zoning pattern.

Alicia Moore, another senior planner with the city of Fayetteville, said the city currently has 4,000 parking spaces in its central district. She said fewer than half are being used during peak periods of traffic.

“So there’s no need to create more parking,” she said.

According to Moore, some of the Downtown Urban Design Plan’s key objectives and benefits include:

– Increased flexibility and personal development.

– A simplified street-line process. (A street line is a front lot line separating the zoning lot from the street.)

– Fostering walkability in an expanded downtown.

A second meeting is scheduled for March 22 when the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on text amendments to the plan. 

On April 12, the Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on map amendments.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, Hay Street, downtown