Planning consultant Bird Houk Collaborative presented preliminary results of the Olde Gahanna Downtown Vision plan at Gahanna City Council's committee of the whole meeting Nov. 24.

Planning consultant Bird Houk Collaborative presented preliminary results of the Olde Gahanna Downtown Vision plan at Gahanna City Council's committee of the whole meeting Nov. 24.

The plan includes a detailed profile of the characteristics of the Olde Gahanna area, an analysis of specific development potential and a detailed physical inventory and architectural analysis.

Tony Slanec of Bird Houk said the plan looks at current economic conditions, housing, retail and office trends in the future, and strengths and weaknesses of Olde Gahanna.

"We looked at different communities within central Ohio to determine what is going on in their downtown that creates that destination... that excitement of being there," he said.

Bird Houk solicited input from a steering committee and stakeholders to prioritize a list of needs and desires for Olde Gahanna, Slanec said.

Stakeholders are interested in marketing as a district rather than as individual businesses, increasing diversity of housing, fostering mixed-use development and increasing public artwork, Slanec said.

Residents and businesses would like to see truck traffic taken off Mill Street and a parking plan adopted and enforced, he added.

"Parking is not as identifiable as they would like," he said, even with the Creekside parking garage.

Stakeholders also would like to see more pedestrian connection between the commercial and residential districts, and connectivity from the south to north side of Granville Street.

Key recommendations will include redevelopment potential in Olde Gahanna, Slanec said. The plan can identify where development should occur, how it will occur and what it would look like, Slanec said.

Council member David Samuel asked if Bird Houk was considering traditional neighborhood design visible in a lot of southern cities. He said the design promotes mixed uses and connectivity.

"We are gaining perspective of what the community wants," Slanec said.

City planner Matt Huffman said the steering committee is looking for ways to foster mixed-use development and deviate from the Granville Street strip centers of the 1960s.

Council member Tom Kneeland asked how much emphasis there was on parking.

Slanec said stakeholders believe there needs to be clearer signage for the parking garage. It is difficult to find the parking garage if you are new to the community, he said.

Service director Terry Emery said the city just received some new signage that will increase visibility of the parking garage. The service department will continue to evaluate the need for signage.

Council member Beryl Anderson said she has encouraged groups to come to Creekside and people frequently have a difficult time finding the parking garage.

Increasing public art was a concern for Anderson, who asked which kind of art was being considered. Slanec said increasing public art could be interpreted many different ways and the steering committee hasn't been specific to date.

Samuel discussed the importance of locating new development closer to the street. Slanec said that was inherent in a pedestrian friendly environment. Huffman said placing buildings close to the street can help slow traffic as well.

Assistant development director Anthony Jones said he was hoping to have a draft complete by the end of January, with a final version of the plan available during the first quarter of 2009.