Planning for the future of Prosper’s downtown
Downtowns are iconic and powerful symbols of a community and often contain the most distinctive features and landmarks. Given that most downtowns are often one of the oldest neighborhoods within a town, they offer rare insights into the past and can be a foundation for future development.
“Downtown revitalization is about more than making physical improvements; it’s about bringing people together. Vibrant downtowns, main streets and city centers give people reasons to return to a neighborhood over and over again.” - Smart Growth
Many municipalities are beginning to reevaluate their downtowns. There is a growing understanding that a strong downtown can be lucrative. It can be a major stimulator for economic growth and a significant revenue generator for a community. Downtowns are often diverse, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, small businesses, restauranteurs, artisans and professional service providers. Often, a defined downtown property may generate more than twice the taxes of a city as a whole and three times the county tax revenues when compared to the same amount of land in other areas.
Downtowns often the center of business activity, attract visitors, young talent and seniors. They represent the image and character of a town. They are the unique area and neighborhood that belongs to and is shared by everyone in the community.
Revitalization of downtowns and central city neighborhoods can be challenging at best. The process can be argumentative and contentious. However, recognizing that a downtown was once the center of commerce, reestablishing these activities and creating a plan for growth is exciting. The plan must then be embraced by the entire community, implemented and measured for its effectiveness. It must be flexible to adapt to changes in the economy and environment.
During our Vision Prosper sessions, overwhelmingly participants voiced their support for the enhancement of our downtown. The Prosper Economic Development Corporation listened and has begun the process of obtaining a Prosper Downtown Master Development Plan.
As we face the changing dynamic of the retail industry, addressing the challenges which have come about with the COVID-19 pandemic and recognizing the need for diversifying our local economy, a strategic plan becomes increasingly important. We must address infrastructure capacity, housing, facilities, parks, open space use, recreation, zoning and economic development. The alignment of these components is critical to successful revitalization.
Significant investment has been made in downtown Prosper. Everything from a state-of-the-art Town Hall to small retailers and restaurants have made downtown their home. Prosper’s Parks and Rec Department has completed an Open Space plan and it ties our downtown to the areas and neighborhoods surrounding it. There is available land for development and a desire by some to invest in the growth and planning of our downtown.
However, we must have an agreed-upon strategy, one which is enforced and recognized. Its implementation will ensure investments are secure and profitable. In doing this, it will also support our current businesses and, hopefully, act as a catalyst for increased revenue and profits. With the help of community leaders, citizens, investors, developers and business owners, we hope to determine a course of action and a path to success.
Prosper’s first settlers arrived in 1846, the town was incorporated in 1914 with a population of approximately 500. It was an agricultural center and was made use of by the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad. Today, Prosper is the most affluent town in Collin County. It is home to one of the finest educational system’s in the state, premier emergency response and safety providers, a network of established neighborhoods, is fast becoming the North Texas center for Pediatric Healthcare, and has a growing population nearing 28,000.
We must acknowledge our downtown, which gave our community the base upon which to build. Let us embrace a shared vision plan for its growth and revitalization. Stay tuned.
Mary Ann Moon, CEcD, FM, HLM, is executive director of the Prosper Economic Development Corporation. Submit feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.