A city is largely judged by its sense of place, social atmosphere, and quality of life elements that can be hard to define. People want to live or work in a place that is pleasant, distinctive, stimulating, attractive and safe. Tempe, Arizona is such a downtown, yet there is a need for more active downtown parks and sidewalks, destinations along Town Lake, and guidelines for new development to foster street life. Downtown also needs to be better connected, with a greater emphasis on walking and biking - a safe and engaging place that meets the demanding standard of young children and the elderly.
In 2006 and 2007 Project for Public Spaces, with PROS Consulting and Drake & Associates, worked with the City, its residents, and civic groups, to develop an Urban Open Space Plan for parks, plazas, and connection systems -- essentially a Placemaking Plan and Program for the whole downtown. The plan proposed improvements for more than 30 places that made up the fabric of the downtown experience.
The City's unprecedented growth has been an impetus for the plan -- the combined effect of a dozen downtown developments will define the City's physical form and social interaction for generations. The Plan was a chance to work with these developers to help ensure that they would contribute to an integrated network of lively, pedestrian-friendly streets, plazas and parks.
It was also important to create an activity program for downtown's spaces that would attract a spectrum of all ages and cultures. The study used demographic information and public process to build a program of uses suitable to each audience.
While the overall vision is to create a seamless system of destinations, other objectives included:
The plan includes an analysis of the economic, ecological, social/cultural and health benefits of open space, as well as a resource protection mission and action plan. Maintenance standards, as well as staffing requirements to implement the plan, were developed for each of the places included in the plan, along with funding and financing alternatives.