TSW led a consultant team to develop the Downtown Master Plan for Sumter, South Carolina. The city’s downtown area has recently undergone revitalization with the addition of new restaurants, the renovation of the Opera House, the presence of Central Carolina Technical College, government offices, and community events, as well as streetscape improvements on Main Street and Liberty Street. The downtown area is home to a large collection of historic buildings, many of which are occupied by local businesses. Additionally, many important community resources are located within walking distance of each other in the downtown area. However, despite this, the area currently lacks housing options, and the health of the commercial spaces in the area is dependent on increasing the nearby population.
The vision for the Sumter Downtown Master Plan was to build upon the historic character and recent investments in the area to create an inclusive, active, and prosperous downtown Sumter, making it the true heart of the community. The project included an extensive public outreach effort, including an online and paper survey (with 698 responses), two days of focus groups, and a 3-day charrette with the entire consultant team. The charrette included open houses, pop-up events throughout the community, and public input opportunities throughout the process.
The goal of the plan is to create a vibrant and livable downtown area that is a destination for residents, visitors and businesses. To achieve this, the plan focuses on the creation of more housing options, the development of new mixed-use spaces, and the enhancement of public spaces. The plan also includes an emphasis on sustainability, and the use of green infrastructure to manage stormwater. The implementation of these and other strategies will help to create a more dynamic and sustainable downtown area, while preserving the historic character of the area.
The Sumter Downtown Master Plan consisted of design and policy goals to reach the vision:
- Bring residents to Downtown Sumter.
- Make a more cohesive transportation network.
- Create usable and accessible public space.
- Create an environment for a thriving commercial core.
- Bring the arts and community-serving agencies to Downtown.
- Ensure equitable opportunity and a community welcoming to all.
The overall design framework of the Sumter Downtown Master Plan addressed these goals with improved, multimodal streetscapes with on-street parking, public open spaces, many housing options, mixed-use development, transitions from nearby neighborhoods, and zoning updates to permit the recommendations. In addition, the plan provided housing and retail recruitment strategies to facilitate economic development. The following are key design recommendations that resulted from an extensive existing conditions analysis, market analysis, and public input:
- Add residential units, primarily smaller single-family houses on small lots, townhouses, and apartments over retail;
- Add new office and retail spaces, in both renovated and new buildings focused along Main Street and Liberty Street;
- Create a multi-purpose Downtown Civic Green that serves as a central gathering place and connects the east side of Downtown to Main Street;
- Improve streetscapes with road diets that reduce and replace travel lanes with sidewalks, bicycle facilities, and on-street parking;
- Facilitate the expansion of Central Carolina Technical College; and
- Grow the arts community by provided an arts center and renovating existing buildings for living and studios.