The Downtown Master Plan
A critical aspect of planning for the future of downtown Farmington involves creating a long-term vision that will become a part of the city's development process.
Farmington's Downtown Master Plan accomplishes this goal. With seed money advanced by the Farmington City Council, the Downtown Development Authority authorized the Main Street Design Committee to oversee development of a Downtown Master Plan. The committee hired planners at Grissim Metz Andriese Associates and Langworthy, Strader, LeBlanc & Associates. After collecting input from many facets of the community and neighboring cities, the final draft was presented to the Planning Commission and City Council for approval.
Implementing the Master Plan required changes to the City's Zoning Code, approval of a future land use plan, development standards and changes to the city's existing sign ordinances. The Traffic and Safety Board will review traffic circulation and parking issues and will likely recommend new or revised traffic controls (stop signals, pedestrian crosswalks, etc.).
As with creating the Master Plan, all aspects of the implementation process will provide citizens with additional opportunities to help shape the future of Downtown Farmington.
Downtown Farmington 2020
What the City's Master Plan Means for You
Enjoying the amenities of our fine city in the present time is one thing. Envisioning what Farmington should look like by 2020 or 2030 is the responsibility of our Downtown Development Authority Main Street Design Committee. Our Master Plan Subcommittee was comprised of city officials, city council members, and knowledgeable volunteers, who set out with the objective of creating a plan that would enable Downtown Farmington to reach its greatest potential over the next ten years and beyond.
The Planning Process
The planning process required intense contemplation and debate to solidify a comprehensive design and vision for the City's land use. The plan addresses the future needs of Farmington for years to come. It gives consideration to the present aesthetic appeal of the downtown, in particular the character of Grand River Avenue, Farmington Road and other important streets and buildings. Planning for vehicular and pedestrian circulation, parking and traffic patterns are critical issues to resolve. The Plan calls for retaining Downtown Farmington as the focal point of the community at large by reinvigorating it as a more appealing destination for surrounding communities.
The Plan takes into consideration retail growth, expanded green space areas, adequate parking and the creation of a natural transition to and from the downtown into the suburban settings.
The DDA went through a request for proposal, interviewed five city planning firms and finally chose Grissim Metz Andriese and Associates who partnered with Langworthy, Strader, LeBlanc & Associates. A number of meetings were held to elicit public input. These meetings resulted in several good ideas.
The Master Plan Subcommittee drove the process. Working together with Farmington City Manager Vince Pastue, Steve Schneemann, Chair of the Master Plan Subcommittee and other talented committee members: Brian Golden, David Gronbach, Leonard Gyselinck, JoAnne McShane, Joseph Mosey, Mike Nowak and Shelley Raymond, made tremendous progress on the Plan. We were fortunate to have three architects on the Design Committee who added their professional expertise.
The DDA strived to make the Plan a living document somewhere between idealism and reality. The fact that the Plan can be amended and modified, provides the flexibility to adapt to changing times and circumstances.
Sparking some development with the new concepts contained in the Plan is a key objective. More living space developed for downtown would be beneficial to Farmington. We'd like to see some condominiums coming in that will create the optimal mixed-use that we are seeking. The Plan suggests filling in the property gaps with new development. The new structures might contain retail shops on the ground level with luxury condos or apartments on the upper levels. This concept would permit the growth of our retail shopping while promoting greater population density in the downtown area. People want to live in downtown areas, this plan addresses that need.
Downtown Green Spaces
A major development concept calls for expanding the green space areas within the downtown. Green space areas invite pedestrians and give them a feeling of openness and cleanliness, a sense of closeness to nature. The green space areas should also serve as an attraction for suburban residents to venture into downtown via the Plan's pedestrian walkways or links to shop and enjoy the ambiance of the park setting. Greater ease of entry to the downtown and further integration of the subdivisions with the downtown is a priority.
The Plan will prescribe blending the necessary elements into a concept that produces a very pedestrian-friendly downtown. The entry into downtown will be obvious, when you view a sea of green instead of a sea of parking, you are in Downtown Farmington. Within the core of green, the focal point would be a pavilion. Today, we are pleased that the Walter E. Sundquist Pavilion in George F. Riley Park, in the heart of Downtown Farmington, has helped fulfill our goal.
The Sundquist Pavilion is now home to the Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market. A farmers market is an important accouterment to any city. Fresh produce and other farm products lend an air of history, of yesteryear, or European flavor to any downtown.
The Parking Plan
The plan for vehicular parking requires an imaginative touch to integrate it into the scheme that includes green space areas, commercial and residential considerations. The Farmington Downtown Development Authority believes the answer to more useful parking is the concept of integrated parking which combines more on-street parking with a parking structure that is aesthetically pleasing, perhaps being above ground or underground. Whatever the parking solution is, it must not detract from the attractiveness that we are committed to for the downtown, and will be harmonious to the overall concept of the downtown area.
The DDA has a conceptual plan for our city's downtown that we believe provides for its needs over the next ten to twenty years. We have incorporated enhancements and improved land use that should provide for improved economic growth, and we have committed to vastly expanding our green space areas. Now we need to take the next steps to firm up the details and make the plan actionable. We have put together the guidelines, the implementation plan is in place, next is a review by the Board, followed by an adoption by the City Council and Planning Commission. Great progress has been made to get this far. Farmington is looking forward to progress.
Land Use Objectives
- Provide additional high-density residential on the fringe of the DDA to increase daily activity.
- Offer infill and redevelopment opportunities to create a consistent building line at the street front.
- Reduce gaps that discourage pedestrians.
- Direct uses with higher parking demands to locations with convenient access to ample parking.
- Concentrate pedestrian-generating uses together and provide ample sidewalk and circulation features.
- Maximize potential uses of sites within the DDA through multiple story buildings, mixed-use building and high residential density.
- Stagger buildings to provide areas for pedestrian activities and shortcut connections.