Editor's Note: This story is part of a month-long series that highlights 31 ideas included in the "Mansfield Rising" plan. The 67-page document was created by 15 local leaders after attending the South by Southwest Conference last March in Austin, Texas.
Idea 1: Redevelop the municipal lot
MANSFIELD -- The first idea listed in the 'Mansfield Rising' plan is to redevelop Mansfield's municipal parking lot.
The plan identifies the parking lot, located between third and fourth streets, as potentially a "major redevelopment site."
"This large void could be developed to connect Central Park and the Carrousel District," the plan reads. "During the (team's) listening tour, it became apparent these two districts need a strong connection in order to create a more robust downtown."
The plan suggests a multi-use structure, including retail, residential, tiered parking and green space, as the "best version of redevelopment," but also provides a less expensive parking-only alternative.
"A transformative new development would send a clear message that the local economy is growing and responsive to the community. Incorporating new mixed-use buildings has been an effective strategy used in many cities, including Kent, Ohio and Des Moines, Iowa," the plan says.
The structure could provide a "more walkable and inviting experience" with centralized parking area to serve the greater downtown and retail space at ground level along Main, Fourth and Diamond Streets. Ideally, new residential units would be on the upper floors and green space located adjacent to the structure for recreation.
"The space could be more than a parking lot, it could be a vibrant space for the community," the plan states.
A less expensive option would be to create a multi-tiered parking structure on the municipal lot.
The plan notes that while downtown Mansfield has several dozen public and private parking lots, visitors consistently talk about the lack of parking. It attributes this misconception to poor wayfinding and directional signage leading people to available spaces rather than scarcity of parking.
The plan then goes on to highlight examples in Newark and Kent, Ohio. Newark has a smaller, two-level basic parking garage near the public square within easy walking distance to the heart of its downtown. Kent has a much larger multi-use structure that includes first floor retail and an interior public transit terminal.
The price tag for each structure varies greatly, the plan explains, but they are "good examples of the options."