By Mark Carlisle | Daily Independent
As city officials look forward to a new year, their main focus will be on the downtown City Center development. After decades of planning, City Center will finally start to take shape in 2020, with infrastructure improvements and likely the start of land transfers to public companies with plans to build.
“It’s a game-changer for our residents and for this whole area if we can get it to develop in the right way so that it becomes a destination that people want to come to,” said Mayor Tom Schoaf.
The plans for a downtown retail center around City Hall began in 1996, then called the Village Center. Plans stalled largely because the vacant property was privately owned by landowners unable or unwilling to build.
Now that the city has purchased the 30 acres of vacant land around City Hall, it has spent the last few years revisiting and reshaping the vision for what is now called City Center. City Council’s vision is for a mix of offices, restaurants and high-end retail surrounding a park for residents to congregate and to host city events and festivals.