November 29, 2012

Recognized: APA Planning Award

Mason City Federal Avenue Streetscape and Plaza: received recognition from the Iowa Chapter - American Planning Association (APA-Iowa) at the 2012 APA conference Award ceremony on November 1, 2012 in Ames, Iowa. Representatives from RDG and the city of Mason City were on hand to accept the Public Improvement Project Award for the design of the Federal Avenue Streetscape and Plaza in Mason City, Iowa.

DOWNTOWN MASON CITY IS AN EXTREMELY RICH AND DYNAMIC PART OF THE CITY. It includes regional retailing that would be the envy of larger cities, a beautiful city square, architectural monuments that include one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous urban buildings, an attractive waterway, cultural assets, and surrounding historic neighborhoods. The downtown district adds tremendous value to Mason City and its strength and resources benefit every citizen and property owner.

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The City of Mason City retained RDG Planning & Design to prepare a comprehensive and unified vision of Downtown to guide a program of continued improvement and development. This plan was designed to help Downtown Mason City remain a thriving business and cultural district.

The Federal Plaza and Federal Avenue streetscape are the most immediate focus area of this plan, for variety of reasons. Federal Plaza is the Downtown's most important public space. It has the potential to be the space that creates an identity for the entire city. Federal Plaza provides the setting for the historic Wright Park Inn building. Also, it provides the transition area between Central Park, the historic downtown and the Southbridge Mall retail area. The revitalization of the Federal Plaza and streetscape has had several immediate results:

- The renewed Federal Plaza creates a space that is flexible and functions as an outdoor room. The vision is to create a space which is occupied on either side by sitting areas and tables, with the area in the middle landscaped. This creates a more simplified and functional space that allows the city's fire emergency access.

- The Federal Plaza has become the 'front door' to the mall. Previously, the orientation of the mall was to the south, where the parking area is located. The redesign of the plaza has created a more inviting pedestrian connection so that people are encouraged to go back and forth between the mall, the plaza and the Downtown streets.

- The plaza and streetscape have become a place for tourists and residents alike to congregate and celebrate. The plaza is designed to help Downtown Mason City remain a living heart of the community - a strong economic resource and image center that brings economic benefit and joy to all who have a stake and interest in the future of the city.
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