Attracting economic development, adjusting for population growth
The City of Verona, Wis., sustained a healthy downtown for decades anchored by several long-term employers. The relocation of a major regional employer to the City caused a population explosion, meanwhile the downtown area had not kept pace with the City as a whole—which doubled in population between 1990 and 2010. The City was in need of a plan to attract more investment and spending to the downtown area while also managing traffic growth and increased parking demand. The bypass of a major highway, which once routed through the heart of Verona—as well as a rush-hour-failing primary intersection—created a need for the City to create a more robust downtown plan with an emphasis on solving traffic intersection efficiencies while also maintaining a friendly, pedestrian-oriented environment.
The improved corridor
An ad-hoc downtown planning committee was formed to explore options for traffic efficiencies, redevelopment opportunities and parking solutions. While proposed traffic solutions threatened to eliminate some of the viable on-street parking, an uptick in infill development would inevitably increase parking demand. It was clear that a thorough parking inventory assessment was needed, so data was collected through a detailed survey of both on-street and off-street parking spaces, tracking their utilization during peak weekday periods. This analysis was supplemented with input from residents and local businesses through other surveys and stakeholder meetings. The combined information provided a more accurate assessment of supply and demand, which then informed recommendations on how to create modest, new City-owned parking lots throughout the downtown area—to be mainly located within 300 feet of demand-generating uses. A master plan was created identifying parcels for redevelopment (including real estate acquisition estimates), as well as parking plans and designs for streetscape improvements.
Since the plan was adopted, Verona has experienced marked improvements throughout the corridor. The City implemented a streetscape project based on the concepts provided in the plan, and an historic building at the major intersection is now being rehabilitated and repurposed. Several other redevelopment projects are also in the works, either currently in the planning process, or slated for construction.