MCP faculty and students partnered with Phenix City, AL in Spring 2022 semester as part of the Alabama City Year Program. Students in two classes collaborated with their Planning and Economic Development Department, working closely with their senior staff and stakeholders. Students in Dr. Binita Mahato’s Urban Design Studio worked on Downtown Revitalization Plan and students in Dr. Sweta Byahut’s Sustainable Transportation Planning class worked on a Corridor Redevelopment Plan. Both classes undertook several field trips to Phenix City throughout the semester. The city hosted them for the kick-off meetings and organized field visits at the beginning of the semester. Planning Director Tracie Hadaway and Economic Development Manager Shaun Culligan visited both classes mid-semester to interact with students, provide feedback, and brainstorm with them. At the end of the semester, students of both classes presented their ideas and proposals to the Mayor Mr. Eddie Lowe, the City Manager Mr. Wallace Hunter, several city council and planning commission members, as well as various department heads and city officials who attended their presentations and appreciated their ideas. This community outreach project received substantial local media coverage, including WRBL TV station & Citizens of East Alabama newspaper.
Downtown Revitalization Plan
Dr. Mahato’s CPLN 7200 Urban Design Studio developed three Urban Design Plans –A City of New Beginnings, Renewing the Heart of Phenix City, and Paving the Way for a Vibrant and Active Futurefocusingon the redevelopment of Downtown Phenix City. The area falls between Railroad St.to the north, Dillingham St.to the south, Broad St.to the west, and Chattahoochee River to the east. The studio followed a 6-step process of exploring the issues in the area and proposed strategies and plans to address those. The students started by SENSINGthe studied site by using various tools to observe, map, and document the essential characters of the place. Next, in the SYNTHESIZING and ANALYZING phase, the students collected data to identify the crucial issues of the area and THEORIZING the goals and objectives of the project. Finally, in the MAKING phase, they developed implementation strategies and master plans and presented them to the community through writings, sketches, and oral presentations in the COMMUNICATING phase. The students worked in three teams and developed individual plan proposals addressing connectivity, activity, economic development, riverfront development, and event-based development.
Mark Aniadaga, Charles Jones & Benjamin McGarr were awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award for a Planning Student Team by the Alabama Chapter of the American Planning Association for their project ‘Renewing the Heart of Phenix City’
13th Street Corridor Plan
Dr. Byahut’s CPLN 5/6060 Sustainable Transportation Planning class focused on the redevelopment of the 13thstreet corridor that connects to Columbus, GA. Students worked in teams on two nodes and two segments. Their proposed plan focused on roundabout design, multi-modal connections, pedestrian and bike safety, parking enhancements, and recreational trail enhancements. First, students conducted case studies of similar projects from across the country to understand corridor and complete street planning features. In the next stage, students conducted extensive fieldwork to understand the existing conditions through GIS Mapping and land use analysis, bike and pedestrian level of service analysis, site analysis, and photo-documentation and undertook a review of policies and land use zoning along the corridor. Finally, they developed specific proposals for roundabout design at the 5-Points intersection, nodal design of the Broad and 13thstreets intersection, and complete street design for the 13thstreet corridor from downtown to Hwy 280. Their proposals included ways to incorporate bike and pedestrian facilities, planning interventions in both land use and transportation, policy measures, access management, traffic-calming measures, and other ways to improve safety and accessibility.
This project will have a positive and lasting impact on Phenix City. As a direct result of the student presentations, the city applied to and received a Transportation Alternative Grant for landscape improvements, pedestrian walkway improvements, and the addition of bicycle lanes on 14th Street. Phenix City was awarded $1 million dollars for Phase 1 of this project and has recently applied for another $1 million TAP grant for Phase 2. In addition, the city applied for a Reconnecting Communities Grant for the 13th Street Corridor to further investigate strategies to improve the functionality of 13th street for all modes of transportation, improve the livability on the corridor and increase the economic vitality of this section of Phenix City.