Downtown Longwood, FL is already home to a SunRail station and new development. How can the city make the most of future growth? Photo via.
Downtown Longwood, FL is already home to a SunRail station, and new residential and retail development projects are in the works. Now the city is thinking strategically about how to make the most of all this growth, and they asked Smart Growth America for help.
Longwood was one of seven communities selected to receive one of Smart Growth America’s 2016 free technical assistance workshops. Longwood was specifically interested in our Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health workshop, and on March 29 and 30 the Smart Growth America team went to Longwood to deliver it. John Robert Smith, Smart Growth America’s Senior Policy Advisor, and Chris Zimmerman, our Vice President for Economic Development, spent two days working with local elected officials, staff, and engaged residents on how the city can plan for long-term growth.
New development has the potential to dramatically transform Longwood in the coming years, and this workshop focused on what that transformation can and should look like. Participants discussed the city’s current layout and where new development could potentially go. Through these conversations, participants agreed that the downtown district—which includes the SunRail station and a proposed city hall revitalization project—has the greatest potential to grow into a destination for visitors and current residents alike.
Smart Growth America’s recommendations coming out of the workshop were two-fold. First was for the city to make the most of the properties it owns downtown, including City Hall, the fire and police department buildings, and the area surrounding the historic Longwood Hotel and Reiter Park. The second recommendation was for the city to create a capital improvement plan to help evaluate, prioritize, and identify financing options for new projects. Such a plan would help Longwood concentrate resources in downtown.
Longwood was one of seven communities nationwide selected to receive one of Smart Growth America’s 2016 free technical assistance workshops. Stretching from Florida to Alaska, these communities represent major cities, suburban centers, and rural towns alike. The program, made possible through a five-year Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Sustainable Communities, seeks to develop local planning solutions that help communities grow in ways that benefit families and businesses, while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place.