Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Secret Hope for Old Richardson

Are big things in store for old downtown Richardson?

In November, the council approved zoning changes to facilitate a large expansion of the Afrah restaurant, including a market center and plaza.

In January, the council approved doing a Main Street/Central Expressway study to create a redevelopment and reinvestment strategy for the area.

In April, secret doings in city council. More after the jump.

In both the April 9 and April 16 city council agendas was this tantalizing item:

Council will convene into a closed session to discuss the following:
... Deliberation Regarding Economic Development Negotiations
   ... Commercial Development - Belt Line Rd./U.S. 75 Area

"Negotiations" can mean the buying and selling of property of which the city is a party. Or not. This kind of agenda item appears frequently on council agendas. Usually, it's a minor matter. What's unusual is when the topic appears on two consecutive council agendas for the same area of town. It still doesn't mean the matter is consequential (for other than the property owner). Given that the council has initiated a redevelopment study, it'll probably be a year before large scale plans to salvage the heart of old Richardson begin to take shape. Still, I can't help hoping that the council is starting to pay regular attention to its old downtown. There's only so much time the council can spend talking about dog parks and skate parks, isn't there?

The Downtown Main Street Enhancement Area encourages pedestrian-oriented development. Regardless of the commercial redevelopment that the council is considering these past two weeks, they ought to be considering doing something to make Main Street itself more pedestrian-oriented. How about narrowing Main Street through downtown to a single lane in each direction, perhaps by putting in wider sidewalks and trees between the sidewalk and the street? A "Main Street" ought to be a destination, not just an arterial to get to the other side of town.

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