MONTGOMERY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Montgomery's Historic Dexter Avenue Revitalization wins State Urban Design Award

Montgomery Chamber of Commerce issued the following announcement on Oct. 24.

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Chapter of the American Planning Association presented the City of Montgomery with the Franklin M. Setzer Outstanding Urban Design Project Award for Montgomery’s success in revitalizing Dexter Avenue.

“This recognition speaks to the success we have achieved through years of hard work and responsible planning to breathe new life into Dexter Avenue,” Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said. “Partnerships in both the public and private sectors proved critical to realizing our vision along Dexter Avenue. This is only the beginning as more and more investors, businesses, residents and visitors choose to live, work and play on Dexter Avenue –heralding the good things to come in the Capital of Dreams!”

Presented October 11 in Oxford, Miss., at the American Planning Association’s Joint Alabama-Mississippi state conference, the 2018 Franklin M. Setzer Outstanding Urban Design Project recognition marks another milestone in the City’s decade-long redevelopment effort to bring community, commercial and residential activities back to Dexter Avenue. Named in memory of the former director of Design Alabama and Auburn University Architecture and Urban Studies Center in Birmingham, the award is given to the top Alabama project for which design is an integral part of the planning process and is a major concern of the built environment.

The City’s application to APA Alabama emphasized the results of the effort that resuscitated one of the nation’s most historic streets. In 2007, the City updated its Downtown Plan as construction was completed on Riverwalk Stadium, the Alley Entertainment District and the Montgomery Performing Arts and Convention Center. Each opening brought a flurry of activity to the city center. To capitalize on the rapidly increasing activity, Downtown Plan updates established guidelines to prime the pump for new, continued growth, and it recognized the importance of focusing revitalization on Dexter Avenue. In the same timeframe, the City acquired 12 properties, many threatened due decades of neglect, and sold them to developers who agreed to renovations and prioritized urban design.

The 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in March 2015 further sparked work on Dexter Avenue revitalization. The artistic crosswalk of marchers’ feet at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church has become iconic to the street. Other elements include streetscape improvements, adaptive reuse of buildings, re-platting lots together to solve mixed-use egress requirements, creation of innovative civic spaces like the new Lower Dexter Park and Dexter Alley and fostering of community through the introduction of events and groups like the Downtown Neighborhood Association, Art on the Square and the Lower Dexter Cruise-ins.

Block by block, new life has bloomed on Dexter Avenue and beyond. Most recently, the openings of new public gathering places in the heart of downtown nearly coincided with the grand reopening of the adjacent Kress on Dexter, one of the buildings sold by the City under a rehabilitation agreement but funded entirely by private sector investors. Montgomery’s downtown revitalization continues to serve as a case-study in historic revitalization and the City is proud to accept this award.

Original source can be found here.

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