Washington Street redevelopment plans get underway

COVINGTON -- The public is invited to attend a charrette this weekend focused on the redevelopment of the Washington Street corridor.

City officials have identified Washington Street as an area in need of improvement and redevelopment of the corridor is part of the city's strategic plan, said Planning Director Randy Vinson.

Property owners along the corridor and the public at large are being asked for input as the planning process kicks off with the charrette.

A charrette is an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. The charrette will begin at 4 p.m. Friday at The Center for Community Planning and Preservation, located at 2104 Washington St.

"The first meeting on Friday will be to specifically seek (participants') input regarding what they see as challenges and opportunities and what their specific vision may be," Vinson said. "The design team will take that information and begin crafting a plan that incorporates as much of their vision as possible."

Follow-up meetings will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday at The Center.

"From that point on, the design team will work on revising and finishing the plan incorporating the comments from the review sessions," Vinson said.

The plan will eventually go before the City Council for approval. Vinson said the plan could incorporate development standards and regulations, incentives to implement those standards and/or redevelopment of blighted areas. The targeted area is one block east of the Square at the intersection of Hendricks Street to the Porterdale city limits.

"As one of the main thoroughfares that comes into the Square, it obviously sets an impression for somebody visiting Covington for the first time," Vinson said. "If they happen to approach Highway 81 and Washington Street, the first thing they see sets an impression of Covington, and we felt we could try to address some of the conditions along there in a positive way that would be beneficial to the image of Covington.

Redevelopment of blighted areas closer to town, such as the Washington Street corridor, can be beneficial for the community, as these areas are more walkable and closer to residences, Vinson said.

The city is paying $30,000 to the design team of Peter Drey and Jacob Lindsay for the initial plan. Grants or federal funding may be available to implement whatever plan is developed, he said. Those funding sources usually favor a project if a local government has already invested in planning, he said.

The public can follow the progress of the project at http://covingtonworkshop.com.