Division Street Ideas Gathered at Public Meeting
By Office of Communication
Posted on March 30, 2012, March 30, 2012

Post-it notes dotted maps that depicted Division Street between Cooper and Collins streets, listing potential ideas for redeveloping the area and encouraging future growth.

With suggestions such as combining car lots into one shared-use area, relocating utility poles and offering upscale, urban senior living options, residents spoke up in the first public meeting for the Discover Division effort.

The project aims to find ways to support Division's historic past and keep it commercially viable, while finding new investments for the area.

Officials said designing the first public open house as an informal and interactive opportunity to mingle with city planners and consultants made people more open with their ideas.

Several dozen residents turned out to hear a project update and share their opinions. There will be two more public meetings on the project in May and August.

"I liked this format, especially because this is a lot of information to digest," said Jim Parajon, Arlington's community development and planning director. "These aren't city-initiated ideas. We can see real opportunity with these suggestions. I'm thrilled by the turnout and the feedback."

Officials said residents also are responding to a Division Street Corridor Strategy survey on the City's website.

Planning officials and consultants told residents on Thursday that the corridor has potential that needs to be harnessed.

"This is essentially a mature, developed area but there are opportunities," said Paris Rutherford of Catalyst Urban Development.

He said the proximity of Division Street to the University of Texas at Arlington is a key link that should be capitalized on.

"You have UTA on your doorstep," he said. "This is a huge asset."

Rutherford suggested creating office space along the corridor to synergize with growing research efforts at UT Arlington.

"We should tap into that potential there," Rutherford said.

A recent market analysis shows that the one-mile corridor between Cooper and Collins consists of aging and outdated buildings that don't provide visual continuity or varied land uses. It also lacks pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and landscaping.

"You don't realize all of the challenges to accessibility until you actually walk along the street," said Wendy Shabay of Freese and Nichols, an urban planning consulting group.

The Discover Division effort began earlier this year with an advisory committee analyzing conditions and meeting with stakeholders. The effort could be completed and taken to the City Council by the end of the year.

Property owner Ann Phipps said movement on the project is exciting.

"We just need something to pull it all together," she said of redeveloping Division. "It takes a great deal of energy to ignite it."

By Laurie Fox

division, public meeting
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