05/17/06 — DGDC hires firm to chart new course downtown

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DGDC hires firm to chart new course downtown

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 17, 2006 1:56 PM

When Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. Executive Director Julie Thompson unveiled the "City of Goldsboro Comprehensive Historic Neighborhood Revitalization Plan" earlier this year, she said the proposal aimed to identify and restore pockets of distress and decline within the city's historic district.

Last month, Goldsboro City Council took a step toward achieving her goal, as they approved the hire of Allison Platt and Associates to prepare the downtown master plan and allocated $45,000 for use toward that end at their April 3 meeting.

At a DGDC board meeting April 26, Mrs. Platt gave a presentation to council members and others to show how downtown Goldsboro could become a more attractive destination.

"We are confident that our team will deliver an outstanding product that provides Goldsboro with the tools it needs to thrive for fees within the budget outlined," she said.

Now, Mrs. Platt's tasks involve creation of an urban design for the downtown area, data collection and completion of a market analysis. These items will help her form the master plan -- an ideal look and flow for downtown.

In her proposal, Mrs. Platt said "Goldsboro is at a critical point in downtown revitalization," and that she hoped to "ensure focused efforts and define catalyst projects to ensure the long-term stability and growth of the downtown and the community."

Her firm was among 30 originally recommended by the North Carolina Main Street program to create the master plan.

A selection team that included DGDC and staff, the city planning director and the city management team ultimately chose Mrs. Platt and recommended to the City Council that a contract be awarded to her firm.

Mrs. Thompson said Mrs. Platt's hire is a step in the right direction -- one that could lead to big changes during the next decade for downtown Goldsboro.

"Allison has been a part of some tremendous projects like the one in New Bern," she said. "If you look at New Bern's downtown and where it was versus where it is now, you can begin to see what our downtown could be."

Mrs. Platt received her bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1970 and a master's in landscape architecture from Cornell University in the late 1980s.

During her tenure as an urban designer, she has received numerous awards and been published several times.

In 1996, she received the Distinguished Professional Planning Project Award for her master plan for Hilton Village in Virginia. She has also worked on several successful projects in North Carolina, including an urban design plan for downtown New Bern and waterfront plans in Elizabeth City and Belhaven.

Mrs. Thompson said she hopes Mrs. Platt's plan, when combined with the neighborhood plan, will make downtown Goldsboro a place residents can be proud of.

The final product -- areas of affordable, single-family housing that are attractive, safe and desirable to live in, more money in the city budget and attractive, restored historic businesses downtown.