It has been more than a month since Craig Gossman and Ed Hartman of Kinzelman Kline and Gossman presented a strategic downtown survey to to begin a redevelopment project, which is part of the overarching Tiffin Tomorrow campaign. Since the meeting, members of the Tiffin Tomorrow Steering Committee have been working to get the project started.
John Detwiler, president and chief executive officer of the Tiffin Area Chamber of Commerce, said the committee is working to organize a number of committees and meetings.
"It's a lot of planning right now, but nothing concrete," Detwiler said.
He added the committee also is working to put together a website, which is to provide updates, information on the project and ways for the public to get involved.
While Tiffin is in the early planning stages, The Advertiser-Tribune felt it would be beneficial to readers to provide information on other communities in Ohio that have been involved with similar projects finding ways to improve the look of their downtowns, to involve education and develop historical properties.
This is the first installment in a series to highlight areas throughout the state and the nation that have incorporated some of the ideas Tiffin Tomorrow is working toward and to see how similar projects have evolved.
The city of Dayton, best known as the birthplace of aviation's Wright brothers, went through a similar redevelopment project around 2001. Unlike Tiffin, which looks to focus on the downtown, Dayton started with parks and waterfront areas, to be incorporated into the downtown later.
Dayton has three projects which they have worked with KKG to develop. Mark Kline, a KKG partner and Dayton area native, worked closely with Five Rivers MetroParks to develop a plan to improve the usefulness of the city's public spaces.
"I truly believe the partnership led by Five Rivers was instrumental in developing those areas," Kline said. "This was a major jump for this metroparks system."
Lydia Sowles, park planner for Five Rivers MetroParks, said it was critical to get the involvement of the public, which she said could increase private involvement and spending in the community.
The first project the groups collaborated on was Deeds Point MetroPark, situated on the Great Miami and Mad rivers. The project, which was started in 2001, gave the park a facelift and added walking paths, a bike trail, fountains and plaques throughout the park that chronicle the history of flight.
One of the key features of Deeds Point is a pedestrian bridge that connects downtown to the park over the Mad River.
"It provided a critical connection there," Sowles said.
Since then, KKG has been brought in to work on other projects, including two riverscape projects, one of which is to be completed later this month. Kline said these projects utilize Dayton's rivers, open areas which can be used for public events and provide green space for the community.
In addition, Kline said the projects also highlight the history of the city, featuring key natives including the Wright brothers and inventor Charles Kettering, through statues, plaques and other installations which were thematically woven into the design and
architecture along the riverfront.
Sowles said they already have begun to see where the project is a "nucleus of activity" affecting development in other areas of the city connecting the riverfront and making other downtown projects a possibility.
"The original intent was to really bring people into the downtown and get them familiar with the downtown," she said. "(The parks) are just a great place to come ... and bring your family."
The village of Granville in Licking County is home to Denison University and features a number of historical properties.
Alison Terry, village planner, said the village has had a long and close working relationship with the university, which has been beneficial for both groups.
Seth Patton, vice president of finance and management at Denison, has been with the university for more than 30 years and agreed the relationship has helped.
"The relationship is quite good, both from the perspective of the citizens and the village administration," Patton said.
Patton said because the university and the village are small, there is a lot of overlap in students, faculty and staff attending community events and the community supporting the university.
Patton and Terry said their bond has been maintained over the years and there have been many instances of faculty members taking positions in village politics, including at least two who have served as mayor.
In addition to a close relationship with Denison, Granville's downtown features a number of historical buildings, the majority built in the early- to mid-1900s.
Terry said the village takes great pride in its historical stock and through its planning commission - a group not unlike the Architectural Board of Review in Tiffin - the overall look of its downtown and downtown core is
The general look of Granville's downtown, as well as the retail and restaurant opportunities also help bring in students to the university, Patton said.
"I think the village is quite attractive and certainly helps us attract students," he said. "And the village is quite pleased to have students who bring business. We're really quite fortunate."
Zanesville is the county seat of Muskingum County and was the state capital from 1810-12. Like Tiffin, Zanesville has a strong education community, which includes Zane State College and Ohio University Zanesville as well as Muskingum University within close proximity, and a historic downtown with a river running through it.
KKG also has been working in Zanesville to highlight these areas.
Gossman, who is a Zanesville native, said a downtown master plan was presented in 2005 which raised awareness about
what the city has to offer, especially in its riverfront opportunities.
"That plan was well received, not only by the citizens but also by the state (which awarded KKG with a downtown planning award)," Gossman said.
Since that time, a mixed use project was started on the Muskingum River which includes a fine arts gallery, a micro brewery, the expansion of two existing restaurants, new restaurants and a new apartment complex.
Mayor Howard Zwelling said he has a lot of confidence in KKG, which has developed ideas for three projects, including a large mixed-use project called Potter's Alley, a $12 million expansion of the municipal event center and expanding the local Zane Landing Park that connects the two projects.
Potter's Alley is to combine restaurants, a hotel and local artists along the riverfront. Gossman and Zwelling said the project has been on hold due to economic hardship, but they hope it can come to fruition in the near future.
While Zanesville's projects still are in the planning stages, Gossman said he has enjoyed coming back to his hometown after 30 years and bringing light to the areas which make it unique.
"It's been kind of fun to look at it with trained eyes and work with the community (to develop the city's strengths)," he said.