Process Diary | June 30, 2015

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Wrap-Up Presentation Puts Big Ideas on the Table

The five-day collaborative workshop to draft a redevelopment plan for the West Amador neighborhood concluded Monday night, June 29, with a presentation by consulting team leader Susan Henderson.

Henderson showed how team designers linked the aspirations of community members with strategies that recognized and leveraged the neighborhood’s industrial and agricultural heritage; that considered growth in bite-sized increments; and that built on what was already in place to achieve a more walkable/bikeable mix of commerce and housing.

Community members like the idea of greening redevelopment with a minimum of non-permeable surfaces, responsible storm water management and a “skipping stone” of parks and walking paths. All of that was worked into Henderson’s presentation and into the team’s designs.

Nathan Small, who represents the Amador district in the City Council and who made every meeting during the five days, congratulated his constituents on their participation and promised City follow-through.

Henderson’s walk-through of proposals and the one-on-one conversations around displays showing how the ideas might play out in familiar areas of the neighborhood were well received. Here’s a sampling from the Monday-night audience:

“Jacob Slavec, real estate broker: I think at first it was a little daunting with a project this big. But here on the final day I think I can see it finally coming together.”

Jacob Slavec, real estate broker: “I think at first it was a little daunting with a project this big. But here on the final day I think I can see it finally coming together.”

Dr. Brian Ormand, board member, Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission: “A lot of the plans looked interesting and would enhance the lives of the residents at the Mission. I’m looking forward to working more on the planning.”

Dr. Brian Ormand, board member, Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission: “A lot of the plans looked interesting and would enhance the lives of the residents at the Mission. I’m looking forward to working more on the planning.”

Penny Duncklee, resident: “It left me with a warm, comfortable, old-fashioned neighborhood feeling.”

Penny Duncklee, resident: “It left me with a warm, comfortable, old-fashioned neighborhood feeling.”

Siddeeq Shabazz, grad student: “I’m just excited for LC as a city. This is the type of forward-looking planning we need. . . It could really set the tone for the future, not doing the same old thing but just creating something that works.”

Siddeeq Shabazz, grad student: “I’m just excited for Las Cruces as a city. This is the type of forward-looking planning we need. . . It could really set the tone for the future, not doing the same old thing but just creating something that works.”

Angelea Salazar, call center quality analyst: “It was very inspiring. It’s a very central area. All we need is some support and some volunteering and it could really make the place great.”

Angelea Salazar, call center quality analyst: “It was very inspiring. It’s a very central area. All we need is some support and some volunteering and it could really make the place great.”

A plan that responds to what the team heard during the week must allocate and connect space in ways that attract new investment — and jobs — without trying to transform the area into something it’s not. There have to be opportunities for growing existing small businesses and for inventing new ones and for buying or renting homes at prices affordable to a broad range of people.

Listen to Andrew von Maur, one of two designers who produced the images that grabbed so much attention Monday night, as he takes you through the neighborhood as imagined for the future:

Below is an annotated version of the map von Maur described:

Click for larger view.

Click for larger view.

Now, consider before and after treatments at places of opportunity in key sections of the neighborhood, starting in the old industrial area off East Hayner, where a new business might locate (click for larger view):

Employment-East-Hayner-WEB

In the same area, a new plaza is proposed with food trucks supplying the casual dining experience and informal meeting opportunities (click for larger view):

FoodTruckPlazaAtHaynerAndSweet

At West and Compress, designers tried out the idea of “Makers Space,” an opportunity for start-up businesses (anything from a welder to a 3D printer or an artist) to rent small space to grow an idea into a viable livelihood (click for larger view):

Makerspace-West-At-Compress-WEB

At Compress and West Amador, considered a gateway into the neighborhood, why not create an entry feature that signaled the community’s industrial history? Stacked containers make for impressive gateway signage (click for larger view):

Gateway-to-Jobs-WEB

Over on Hadley, where Nellie’s Café and the High Desert Brewery have established themselves, the team sees an opportunity to “complete the street” with more mixed use development (click for larger view):

Completing-the-Street-WEB

Along the edges of the popular Branigan Park there could be small-scale live/play housing to take advantage of recreational access to the Park (click for larger view):

East-at-Branigan-Park-WEB

Expanding on the housing theme, designer John Anderson — a former builder who now trains developers anxious to try their hands at small-scale neighborhood-style development — offered up a range of housing scales that would feel right in the West Amador neighborhood. For instance, here’s a Southern New Mexico-style duplex (click for larger view):

Amador Unit Duplex Elevation

And even a casita version of a Tiny House (click for larger view):

Casita

Anderson also worked out ways to make Valley Drive more of a boulevard that could work for faster moving cars and protect bicyclists while creating an environment friendly to pedestrian-oriented retail. Anderson talked about those goals in a video explainer here. For the wrap-up event, he refined his ideas to provide even more protection of bicyclists. Here’s John walking Valley Drive:

Valley Drive photo

And here’s his suggested resolution (click for larger view):

Valley Drive Access Lane

A Great Week

Throughout this process, the commitment of the Amador neighborhood has been remarkable. We extend a sincere “thank you” to everyone who lent their perspective and vision to this ambitious effort.

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