Buchanan leadership, Andrews University present revitalization project
BUCHANAN — After months of waiting, residents braved the cold, rainy weather at the Buchanan Commons Wednesday evening to watch as city leaders and urban design students unveiled a new vision for the city’s future.
Wednesday, the city of Buchanan and Andrews University students hosted “A Vision for Buchanan,” which presented plans and visual renderings of city revitalization projects.
“We have a vision for you tonight, and oh, what a vision it is,” said City Manager Heather Grace. “Buchanan is a small town with a big heart, and we are always looking to improve. This is one way that we can do that.”
The presentation resulted from a semester of work by the Andrews University Urban Design Studio led by Professor Andrew von Maur. Design students arrived in town in January, and since then, have been working with city staff, business owners and community members to craft a viable vision to revitalize Buchanan’s downtown and beyond. The Andrews University student team includes Ronesto Pineda, Juston Foote, Joel Soto, Jaysung Choi, Reu Avellona. and Ornella Gregorotti.
“This is a menu of different opportunities,” Von Maur said of the presentation. “This is not a master plan that will be adopted in a formal sense. This is to start a conversation that can be built on.”
The Andrews University team said the project kept historic preservation, adaptive reuse and redevelopment in mind with all its recommendations.
“As part of our intents to the city was to keep its historical identity while maximizing its potential and encouraging people to see how beautiful its buildings are,” Soto said.
The design committee recommended revitalization projects in the following areas: downtown, “Clarktown” and the Northside neighborhood.
In downtown, the team recommended wider sidewalks, paving details, hardwood trees and generous storefronts on Front Street. On Days Avenue, the group recommended creating a more pedestrian- and event-friendly environment by adding curbless streets, a fireplace and a restroom building. In the Buchanan Common, they recommended a splash pad, hardwood trees and outdoor furniture to make it feel like an “outdoor room” and town square.
The team also recommended making better use of the waterfront space next to the McCoy Creek, improving accessibility, increasing parking and adding lighting.
The second area discussed was “Clarktown,” the area of town behind city hall previously utilized by Clark Equipment. The design team recommended adding housing, such as apartments and row houses, facing the creek. They also recommended utilizing the McCoy Creek Trail to promote a healthy lifestyle.
The third and final section of town discussed was the Northside neighborhood.
“A lot of people see [the Northside] as neglected,” Von Maur said. “We see a lot of opportunities here.”
The first recommendation was proper maintenance and restoration of Victory Park. Specific recommendations for the park include adding a pavilion, parking, tree planting and a children’s play area.
Outside of Victory Park, the team recommended adding an Indigenous history and ecology trail, a boutique restaurant and inn, improvements to Red Bud Trail, a bike trail, a riverfront boardwalk, housing and a camping area.
In closing the presentation, Von Maur said he and his students enjoyed working in Buchanan and said the recommendations would be a resource to those working on community development in the city of Buchanan.
Community Development Director Rich Murphy thanked the team for their work and the community for attending the presentation.
“We want to continue this discussion this evening, tomorrow, the day after that, all the way to implementation and reality for this collective vision in Buchanan,” he said. ‘Let’s continue this discussion.”
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