Smart Communities Initiative Enters Design Phase

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
About a dozen advanced landscape architecture students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, present findings as part of the Smart Communities Initiative Monday during a meeting at the Blythe Avenue Resource Center.
About a dozen advanced landscape architecture students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, present findings as part of the Smart Communities Initiative Monday during a meeting at the Blythe Avenue Resource Center.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville students went to Cleveland on Friday and Monday as they transition from gathering data to the design phase of the Smart Communities Initiative.

UTK chose the City of Cleveland as its first partner in the university’s interdisciplinary program under which faculty and students will work with city staff on identified projects during the Fall semester.

Planning Director Greg Thomas submitted a list of 19 projects for consideration aimed at increasing the level of economic viability, environmental sustainability and social integrity of the city.

Four senior civil engineering students surveyed Inman Street West Friday afternoon as part of a proposal to install sidewalks on Inman Street between Broad and Keith Streets. Inman Street passes east to west through the heart of Cleveland. The area west of Broad Street to Keith Street is a densely developed, mid-1900s, four-lane commercial corridor mostly without sidewalks and without bus shelters. The Greenway is to be extended south to Inman Street and perhaps eastward along Woolen Mill Branch. The terrain falls rapidly westward from Broad Street and much of this area is generally level and poorly drained, being essentially creek bottomland covered by pavement for decades.

Cody Replogle from Memphis said Friday was his first real-world experience outside the classroom.

“We’re getting a lot of real-world experience and what it takes to do some of these projects,” he said. “The City of Cleveland has asked us to provide a few options to increase traffic flow and make downtown Cleveland more of a destination.”

ROW and drainage will be key issues in planning for the needed sidewalks. Design alternatives should consider retaining the existing four-lane and a lane reduction. Coordination should occur with traffic data and bus shelter projects described herein. Cleveland would expect to fund additional steps necessary to construct this long-sought project, which is consistent with the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan and 2008 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

About a dozen advanced landscape architecture students presented their gathered data in their development of a redevelopment plan for Central City brownfield area outside of Whirlpool site. This is part of the Central City Area Plan and involves mostly older railroad-oriented industrial properties in need of redevelopment. A primary economic driver in the area will be the redevelopment of portions of the adjacent 90-acre Whirlpool site.

A brownfield redevelopment plan needs to deal with non-Whirlpool brownfield properties and the adjacent residential areas. Within the Whirlpool site there are some buildings that will likely remain and others that will be demolished and property that may remain in use by the company or sold to others. There may be opportunities to reopen portions of the enclosed Woolen Mill Branch that crosses the site and to create additional green area in what may become a mixed-use environment. However, this SCI project encompasses the Blythe-Oldfield neighborhood surrounding the Whirlpool property.

Landscape Architecture assistant professor Brad Collett said brownfield redevelopment is much more than cleaning up an industrial site.

“It’s about using these sites in a way that can reenergize and reactivate the community in perhaps a way that has not been contemplated,” he said.

Students gathered data on the history, land use, water quality, transportation, new economy, energy, education and quality of life. They discussed ways to use the brownfield site to connect the neighborhood to the rest of Cleveland.

Cleveland City Engineer Brian Beck, center right, shows University of Tennessee, Knoxville civil engineering students Inman Street West on a map. The students are Cody Replogle, Memphis, left, John McAlister, Nashville, Beck and Wade Lawhorn, Nashville. The students are seniors who graduate in December.
Cleveland City Engineer Brian Beck, center right, shows University of Tennessee, Knoxville civil engineering students Inman Street West on a map. The students are Cody Replogle, Memphis, left, John McAlister, Nashville, Beck and Wade Lawhorn, Nashville. The students are seniors who graduate in December.


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