City staff will soon start developing a new Master Plan for Downtown Lenoir. The Downtown Master Plan will establish a cohesive vision for Downtown Lenoir and guide future development in the heart of the city.
"We are genuinely excited to be embarking on this project," Main Street Director Kaylynn Horn said. "Many surrounding cities and many more across the state have completed one, two, and in some cases, three Downtown Master Plans. Creating our own Downtown Master Plan will help us build upon the momentum and redevelopment currently happening in Downtown Lenoir."
The Downtown Master Plan will be a document that establishes goals for redevelopment and improvements in Downtown Lenoir during the next 10 years. The Plan will also include recommendations for improvements to The Campus at the Historic Lenoir High School (LHS). The Campus includes the LHS Auditorium, Gymnasium, Band Building, Trades/Masonry Building, and Mack Cook Stadium. The Plan will likely recommend changes and additions to public infrastructure in Downtown such as sidewalks, common areas, lighting, and street patterns.
"It will be a guide and vision of where the community would like to see Downtown Lenoir in the next 10 years," Director Horn said. "It should be a fluid, working document that can be adjusted and updated as we implement the plan."
The map above shows Lenoir's National Register Historic District outlined in dark pink, the Municipal Service District outlined in orange, and Central Business District shaded in pink. The Campus is located in the lower left corner of the Central Business District just outside the Municipal Service District.
The City has selected DLR Group to create the Plan. DLR Group is a nationally renowned design firm with more than 40 designers, architects, and planners based in Charlotte. DLR Group has been a member and a leader in the League of Historic American Theatres for 20-plus years; the firm has a heart for historic preservation and community growth through the arts. The group is currently working on performing arts and planning projects in Morganton, Salisbury, Charlotte, and Durham. Their team includes McGill Associates, who have successfully completed many projects – both plans and implementation – for the City of Lenoir.
Creating the Downtown Master Plan could take up to a year. DLR Group will organize many visioning sessions with a diverse cross-section of community and business leaders, elected officials, and staff members to get input for the plan. The group will conduct interviews, hold community workshops, and review existing public infrastructure, downtown properties, and businesses. They will review all of the City's current plans that are connected to Downtown Lenoir such as the City's Bicycle Plan and Pedestrian Plan, and they will conduct many public engagement surveys and meetings to get input from Lenoir's residents. DLR Group will also evaluate current land use and development regulations in Downtown and existing public spaces and amenities.
Members of the public participate in previous DLR Group community input sessions. Photos by DLR Group.
In its proposal, DLR Group said, "One of the important goals of the Downtown Master Plan is to integrate various ongoing, planned, and future projects within the downtown area to prepare a comprehensive, action-oriented but realistic and implementable 10-year plan." Director Horn agreed.
"It’s important that it's feasible and doable," Director Horn said. "We're going to create a plan that we can implement and make progress on during the next decade."
To ensure that the plan represents the interests of the City, residents, business and property owners, and local leaders, City staff will assemble an advisory committee. The Advisory Committee will include elected officials, city board members and staff, property and business owners, and the general public. The Advisory Committee will meet regularly with DLR Group to review and help guide the planning process.
Once complete, the Downtown Master Plan will lay out a vision for Downtown Lenoir. The Plan will focus on creating and enhancing connections between existing public spaces, Downtown, and The Campus.
"It will serve as a tool to help guide all Downtown stakeholders towards the realization of the community’s goals and vision for their Downtown," Director Horn said. "We are really looking forward to working with community members to gain their input and aspirations for the vision of Downtown Lenoir."
City Council voted to approve the contract with DLR Group to create the plan during the regular Council meeting held Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.
Councilman Ralph Prestwood has been involved in Downtown Lenoir since the early 1980s. He has owned and renovated five different buildings in Downtown, and he was part of the group that brought that Main Street program to the City in 1984. Councilman Prestwood also helped start the LHS Foundation, which raised $300,000 to renovate the LHS Auditorium in the late 1980s.
Councilman Prestwood said the plan will be a great tool for the City to keep moving forward and making improvements in Lenoir.
“We have made a great deal of progress over the last several years in all these areas - Downtown, the LHS Campus, Greenways and Pedestrian/Bike Plans," Councilman Prestwood said. "This master plan will take our work to the next level, where we can plan the interaction of these unique assets to serve the citizens of Lenoir and the broader community.”
This map shows The Campus buildings highlighted in pink in relation to Downtown Lenoir.