The other night I couldn’t sleep because I kept thinking about this one section of Tyler. The latest iteration of the city within my mind is a revision of a section of Tyler which can be accessed via Google maps (click here). This section has the potential to be a destination for the entire East Texas region. This section is an rhetorical statement for every visitor that states, “Welcome to Tyler. Please enjoy the benefits of a city that invests in that which makes it unique and beautiful.” This section invites all to congregate and create memories and friendships within the beautiful context of a city that is unmistakably and undeniably Tyler, TX.
The map I have drawn from my mind (below) is a basic sketch of a completely transformed space. In order to go from sketch to city, it would take years of planning, organizing, designing and funding. I do not have the time or skills to execute this whole process, but I do have an idea.
The central mission of my idea is to unite disparate destinations in order to create a cohesive district: The Rose District. This idea weaves together existing locations with the language of architecture, the salve of urban landscaping, the function of efficient public transportation and the mission of welcoming and providing a space for visitors during their stay.
The first step of public investment is to redevelop each street in The Rose District as a complete street that includes a street tree canopy, bike lanes, on-street parking, pocket rose gardens, and narrow driving lanes in order to promote a slower approach. Someone should not be able to drive within a half mile of the Rose Garden and not be aware that they are near the largest municipal rose garden in America. (For great video on “complete streets” follow this link: http://bit.ly/intl9H.) This investment alone will transform the way that people experience The Rose District, but this is merely the skeleton.
The second step is to encourage private investment in certain places by rezoning certain sections of the city as high-density, mixed-use destinations. These destinations are where the visitors will be invited to spend their day in The Rose District walking eating food, drinking wine and watching people walk by on the newly defined sidewalk. The three significant locations for this new development are the parking lots in between Harvy Hall and the Mike Carter field, the intersection of Houston and Glenwood, and the intersection of Front and Glenwood. Picture this instead of this.
The third step is to invest in a street car loop from the Rose Garden, down Houston, left down Genwood, and left down Front back towards Harvy Hall and the Rose Garden. This will be both an attraction and a statement of commitment to the region that comprises The Rose District. This will circulate visitors through the district in a way that is enjoyable, memorable and accessible.
The fourth step centers on what is now the “Rose Complex.” This is an extensive step that seeks funding from a multitude of sources to plan and construct an elaborate convention center on the site of Harvy Hall, a new façade or new Rose Museum, a huge, beautiful concert venue in the Rose Garden (imagine “Live at the Rose Garden”), a street grid and zoned city lots on what is currently parking, and parking garages on the periphery of the node. This area would be the anchor destination that would then invite visitors to move throughout the entire Rose District. One could hop on the street car, grab a bite to eat, get some drinks, walk along the streets, hop back onto the street car, go to a concert in the Rose Garden and leave satisfied at the end of the night.
The fifth and final step would be the installation of monuments at strategic points throughout The Rose District beginning with what is currently a water tower in the middle of Glenwood Blvd. We simply replace this with a “Tyler’ version of this and voila! You have officially arrived in Tyler.
Check out my other Tyler projects at my Tyler, TX page.