For Immediate Release
November 18, 2016
Port Arthur Downtown Study Garners State Planning Award
The Port Arthur Downtown Revitalization Plan has won the Long Range Planning Award from the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association. The organization named the city’s plan as the only recipient of the long range recognition at its annual conference on Nov. 4.
Together, local, state and national trends have led this plan to the underlying belief that a vibrant and healthy urban setting is the best formula to maintain a downtown’s significant role as a hub of activities, a headquarter for businesses, and a focal point of civic institutions. The Downtown Plan has been constructed in part upon the foundation of certain trends and assumptions:
• The Millennial population (i.e. the generation born between approximately 1982 and 2003) has expectations regarding urban environments and mixed use urban areas. In particular, knowledge-based workers, such as engineers, doctors, architects, scientists, accountants, lawyers and teachers, find districts appealing that include walkable environments with small-scale amenities such as cafes, galleries and independent stores.
• Consumer preferences are changing based on the rise of the Creative Class. As defined by Richard Florida, this innovative and creative sector of the work force comprises 40 million workers (about 30 percent of the U.S. workforce). There is a pent-up demand for walkable places and the demand for walkable urbanism will represent at least one third of the U.S. housing market. Both experience and place matter when choosing a shopping location and many buyers expect social engagement and a variety of amenities.
• Not all individuals want to live in a walkable urban place, but they all expect to have the opportunity to do so at various times of their life and will gravitate to metro areas that offer multiple housing choices.
• Housing needs and expectations are changing based on national and local trends that include shifting demographics, decreased household sizes and aging populations. This relates directly to smaller household sizes, the increase in single-person households and households without children, in addition to the amplified demand for housing variety related to an aging baby boomer population.
• Continued sprawl and auto-centric development models can cause traffic congestion, increased fuel consumption, added vehicle trips and increased burden on cities to provide for new infrastructure and the maintenance of existing infrastructure. New developments of urban centers are helping to address these issues with increased densities, mixed uses, new amenities and desirable work environments.
• Expanding downtown residential space will add market forces that support education, retail and dining and entertainment options. More residents and the buildings that house them will also add to the experience of Downtown Port Arthur, close development gaps and make Downtown Port Arthur a more walkable urban center.
• Downtown Port Arthur should position itself to attract new workers and those that employ them. Capital and talent are mobile and some places will make the investments to attract them and prosper while others will not. Downtown Port Arthur should position itself as a vibrant district that entices and serves the next generation of companies, professionals, educators and researchers.
From left to right: Michelle Queen, with Freese & Nichols, Derrick Holland, Rhonda Bell, Pam Langford, Paul Brown, Ron Burton, Planning & Zoning Chair Fernando Ramirez, TxAPA President Kim Michelson, Councilmember Tiffany Hamilton, P&Z Commissioner Alma LeBlanc,and Shad Comeaux, Freese & Nichols.