North Side Riverfront Revitalization Plan
Maren King (SUNY ESF)
Professor Paula Horrigan (Cornell University)
This thematic studio, the result of a partnership between the CCDR, Cornell University, the City of Binghamton, and the New York State Department of State’s (NYS DOS) Quality Communities Initiative, was a direct outcome of the Binghamton Vision Planning Process. In that process, participants identified as a key goal the strengthening of connections between retail, recreational, and residential areas within the neighborhood and the redevelopment of the district’s commercial areas to better provide goods and services for people living in the neighborhood. The City of Binghamton's plan to build a riverwalk along the Chenango River, which runs along the length of the North Side Neighborhood, provided the opportunity to explore and express the community's vision to revitalize an existing retail center in the heart of the neighborhood.
To broaden the support base for the Riverfront Design Process, students developed an outreach strategy that first involved meeting with individual stakeholder groups from throughout the neighborhood. The first stakeholder meetings allowed students to gain a better understanding of how members of each group used and perceived areas within the neighborhood and to understand what the different groups would keep, change, and add within the Riverfront District. The meetings involved mapping exercises and group brainstorming. During the second stakeholder meeting participants reviewed and confirmed findings from the first meeting and began to look more closely at desired qualities and characteristics of the Riverfront District by exploring potential design scenarios.
Two community workshops were then planned to bring the smaller stakeholder groups together for a collective discussion on the ideas that had been developed. During the first workshop, students introduced the idea of "neighborhood patterns," a design tool used to develop conceptual plans for the Riverfront District, and facilitated dialogues about preliminary design ideas for the District. The goal of the second workshop was to review and discuss the students' designs for the Riverfront District. More important than illustrating specific design solutions, the students' proposals illustrate some of the principles that community members want to be incorporated into redevelopment plans as the city and private developers consider design proposals for the Riverfront District.
The work done by the students supplemented ongoing efforts by research teams from both Cornell University and SUNY ESF who were involved in broader aspects of the project, including writing the Vision Plan. They conducted additional site research and design explorations, reviewed design proposals from key property owners, and synthesized the process findings to create the North Side Riverfront District Planning Guide.