TSW led a consultant team to develop Sumter’s Downtown Master Plan. Downtown Sumter has experienced recent revitalization with new restaurants, renovation of the Opera House, Central Carolina Technical College, government offices, community events, and streetscape improvements on Main Street and Liberty Street. Downtown has an extensive collection of historic buildings home to many local businesses, and many important community resources are within walking distance of each other. However, few housing options are located Downtown and the health of the commercial spaces depends on increasing the nearby population.
The plan’s vision was to build on the historic character and recent investment to create an inclusive, active, and prosperous Downtown Sumter, making it the true heart of the community. The project involved an extensive public outreach effort with an online and paper survey (698 responses), two days of focus groups, and a 3-day charrette with the entire consultant team that included open houses, pop-up events throughout the community, and public input opportunities throughout the charrette.
The 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 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.