Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
Reinventing Main Street and loosening zoning laws were among the recommendations Gateway Planning revealed in their suggestions to jumpstart the Heritage Crossing district. The Feb. 28 presentation was the cap to the developer's 60 day study of the district, an area that business owners and residents have long said has needed an overhaul to attract more business.
Among its recommendations, Gateway Planning suggested the City welcome multiple developers and businesses into the area.
"We're trying to set a framework going forward for near term catalytic activities," Scott Polikov, president of Gateway Planning, said.
Already, the City is looking to attract a range of developers. Next week the City will start accepting requests for proposals for the sale of about 20 acres of residential land in the district.
Other Gateway recommendations included creating bike lanes and a comprehensive parking plan, reinventing Irving Boulevard, Main Street and Second Street as well as easing zoning and design guidelines.
"Great architecture is not your goal," Polikov said. "Great pedestrian experiences, great food and cafes, those should be your goal."
Later on, the City may even consider scaling back the boundaries of Heritage Crossing to Britain, Pioneer, Delaware Creek and Sixth Street.
About 50 people attended Gateway's presentation at Irving City Hall, asking questions about marketing the area and suggesting what
type of businesses they'd like to see - namely more breakfast restaurants and nighttime hangouts.
This isn't the first time the City has heard a plan to revitalize downtown.In 2008, developer Delbert McDougal released plans to gut Heritage Crossing and revamp it with new offices, parking garages and apartments. The plan never gained support from the public and last year, the City cut ties with the developer.
Gateway Planning, however, has helped overturn downtown areas in Duncanville, Roanoke and McKinney. In McKinney, efforts helped create a rebranding that led to the city’s recognition as the fifth best place to live in America because of its downtown.
For now, it's too early to choose a new brand for Heritage Crossing according to Polikov.
"I think that is a story yet to be determined. It has to unfold," he said.