The ideas are flowing now.
Visitors who attended the second day of a weeklong planning workshop hosted by the city were greeted with ideas that included a downtown grocery store, a new neighborhood for the 19th and Haskell shopping center, and a large area south of the Wakarusa River that mixes neighborhood shops with nearby large rural spaces.
"I think we have had some meetings that have produced a few 'ah-ha' moments," said Ben Brown, a member of the PlaceMakers Consulting team that is in town through Tuesday to help the city develop a new code that would allow projects to be built using a Traditional Neighborhood Design concept.
The group hosted an event Friday afternoon at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott for the public to see how the work is progressing.
Among ideas on display:
¢ Redeveloping an area of New Hampshire Street between Eighth and Ninth streets to accommodate a 40,000-square-foot grocery store, a three-level, 360-space parking garage, and a four-story building that would feature offices and apartments or condominiums.
¢ A 1,000-acre development south of the Wakarusa River, east of U.S. Highway 59, that would feature a mix of housing types, a small neighborhood commercial center that would be within a five-minute walk of most homes, and several hundred acres of rural, green space.
¢ Redeveloping the shopping center at 19th Street and Haskell Avenue into a new neighborhood that would include 30 to 40 residential lots, a convenience store and about 20,000 square feet of retail space built to look like a mini-downtown block.
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Consultants were stressing that all the ideas were just concepts, and that the plans didn't actually constitute a proposal that was set to happen.
But the concepts did create interest with some property owners. Laura Chaney owns the center at 19th and Haskell with her husband, John Chaney. She said they were eager to explore the consultants' ideas.
"I love the idea of residential housing there," Chaney said. "I think it would be beautiful, but we never would have thought of doing anything like that."
The key to making the project work, consultant Howard Blackson said, is realizing that the project doesn't need nearly as much parking as it does today. Instead, he said, the commercial areas could get by with about half as much parking as exists today because much of their business would come from people who live nearby and would walk to the neighborhood shops.
People interested in the work that the group is doing can talk individually with consultants from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today through Sunday at their studio in the SpringHill Suites, 1 Riverfront Plaza. The group will be making its final presentation to city commissioners at their 6:35 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.