Success and Lessons: South Main, Buena Vista

Success and Lessons: South Main, Buena Vista

By: Dee Miller, Buena Vista Director of Planning

Since the project was approved, the South Main development in Buena Vista has turned into a very nice new urbanism development. However, as with any development, there have been a few minor items that continue to arise, for example:
  • Due to the narrow streets we receive inquiry and input from the public and/or emergency services when incidents arise.
  • The on-street parking is limited during events. South main hosts large outdoor public and private venues. More parking will occur with future phases.
  • They installed one cobblestone street which the Fire Dept. will not service because of the surface, the narrowness and the on-street parking combination.
  • Initially there were complaints that with large snow loads, the steep metal roofs were dropping large amounts of snow on the sidewalk.  We are continuing to monitor this situation.
  • The future, rear-access road to the subdivision was allowed to be postponed until a later phase. This dirt road is used daily as an access point by the public even though it is marked as a construction access only. The developer is considering closing it altogether, and the Town would prefer the road to be paved now.
  • Off-site improvements such as changing an intersection from a round-a-bout to a T-intersection are being re-negotiated as is the Development Improvements Agreement at the developer’s request.

Otherwise, the development seems to function as proposed. It is pedestrian and bike friendly; the narrow streets slow traffic; the setbacks, architectural requirements and landscaping create an inviting atmosphere that attracts tourists and new home owners. The mixed use, architecture - unique to the area with bright colors - the 'beach' that overlooks the river, river trails and open space/park areas, and a brewery/restaurant, are all also positive inviting draws to the development, and appear to be attracting younger and/or new urbanism minded individuals to Buena Vista. Accordingly, the development appears to have enjoyed sustained growth even during the economic downturn.

Retailers in Buena Vista stated that they experienced their best summer of sales in 2013. Though 'staycations' may also be a driver, it is believed South Main is one of the reasons for this economic gain that occurred while the nation was still pulling out of the recession.

The Town's Comprehensive Plan survey (approx. 10 years old now) expressed that citizens wanted to see the 'old town' feel of Buena Vista retained though they did not include architectural standards in the Land Use Code. You can see South Main's architectural influence along Cedar and Spruce streets, located in the old town section on either side of East Main Street, with both new housing and remodeled homes. This is gradually changing the town's 'old town' character. An update of the Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Code is planned for 2015.  It will be interesting to see whether citizens will be interested in including architectural standards.





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