Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
Business owners and residents invested in the Heritage Crossing district spent more than two hours on Jan. 8 discussing possible improvements to the area.
Scott Polikov, president of the Fort Worth-based Gateway Planning Group, told attendees at the public forum his company is working on making an action plan with recommendations that can be taken to the City Council.
“How do you take advantage of all the cars that drive past here?” he asked. “This is about harnessing what’s good about downtown and taking all that planning and coming up with a plan of what that means as far as improvements.”
Heritage Crossing, which includes downtown Irving, is bordered by Pioneer Drive, Shady Grove Road, Britain Road and MacArthur Boulevard.
“There may be places where we scale back,” Kevin Kaas, redevelopment and corridors administrator for the City, said. “Our initial focus is the core area where the City owns property. Those are our best targets, but it doesn’t mean we can’t expand.”
Among concerns expressed at the public meeting were worries about which section of the district would be worked on first, how the area could attract young professionals and how much the City would support the effort.
Some residents voiced concerns at the meeting the City would not “back the project,” but Polikov disagreed.
“The engagement of our firm is a sign they are serious,” Polikov said.
In the past, several plans have already been drawn for the area. If the City Council approves the recommendations, they will then be able to hire a firm that could create a final plan. Polikov said he would like the City to retain his company, but the decision is up to the Council.
Polikov said the company has worked to revive downtown areas in McKinney, Roanoke and Duncanville.
“We created a way for tbusinesses in those places to relate to each other,” he said. “Walkability is crucial. It allows for the perception that if you want to walk from the first part of your day to the second part of your day, then you can.”
The next public workshop will be at 9 a.m. on Feb. 5 at City Hall. Gateway Planning will present its recommendations to the City Council on Feb. 28.