What does Old Town mean in Lewisville?
Downtown Lewisville, the City’s historic center, possesses one of the City’s largest opportunities to define and expand Lewisville’s regional identity and market popularity over the next 10 years through coordinated investment in urban living, restaurants, entertainment and the downtown workplace. A continued focus on Old Town will strengthen the City’s regional profile through an enhanced sense of the community’s center development. This Big Move is a key piece to continue the focus on inducing reinvestment and continuing revitalization in Old Town. A redeveloped Old Town will provide the larger community with a destination for walking, entertainment and transit-oriented development. In addition, Old Town’s redevelopment will expand Lewisville’s programmatic offerings in the form of new housing, employment and restaurant format to expand its competitive position.
One of the challenges with new development in Old Town is largely one of land assembly. Many of the parcels are very small, or the parcels closer to IH 35E are expensive. There is a need for land assembly strategies that focus on catalytic project areas to create an economic incentive program that developers can utilize to mitigate the cost associated with such assembly. There are a host of obstacles that have been encountered in pursuit of larger private investment in Old Town. Over time, the historic core of Lewisville has spread out and combined with more suburban land use patterns along IH 35E, Mill Street, and Business 121. As a result, it is not evident where Old Town starts and ends as the urban footprint bleeds out in these directions. There is a need for catalyst infill projects to solidify the core and boundaries of the urban district, while also better defining the gateway districts into Old Town (i.e. Medical District, Mill Street/Business 121, Main Street/Business 121, etc.).
Plans for Old Town should focus more on implementation and the inducement of new housing (led by rental lofts, followed with for-sale townhomes, etc.). New housing will increase nighttime activity, assist and attract restaurants, and create a stronger place around which office uses will ultimately cluster.
It will be important for the City to emphasize an implementation plan that focuses on specific projects for specific locations based on research of available property, underperforming properties and strategic locations. Projects should include residential infill and restaurant infill. These developments will come from private funding for the majority of the catalytic projects. Some public subsidy will likely be required to mitigate cost of land assembly, infrastructure, and site issues. Such subsidy may come from 380 agreements, Tax Increment Financing districts (TIFs), New Markets Tax Credits and Community Development Block Grants.
Defining Singular Name or Multiple Districts Within Old Town
An additional challenge is the Old Town area is known by several names, which dilutes its brand. A single identity should be defined, expanded upon through a clear marketing strategy, and advertised to the broader marketplace. A defined identity for the Old Town area provides a platform on which a clear marketing strategy can be executed.
Lewisville’s downtown district is identified by the name Old Town. Community input voiced concerns that this name conveys history and nostalgia rather than presenting a more active, current and hip sensibility. At the core of this concern was the perception that Old Town would not be attractive to the Millennial and Gen X markets that are fueling reinvestment in other North Texas communities such as the Bishop Arts District, North Oak Cliff, Uptown Dallas, West 7th Street in Fort Worth, Downtown McKinney, and others. As a result, it was suggested this name be abandoned.
Main & Mill
Several participants during the community charrette identified a process that was recently undertaken by downtown property owners to define the district. They identified the name “Main & Mill” as the outcome of this effort. The efforts could define the downtown district within a market-based context through a strategy aimed at generating new investment and activity. The Main & Mill name identifies the area through its primary street intersection, which would be well understood by those that know Lewisville. As these street names may not be known or appreciated by the larger regional population, the ongoing marketing strategy may position this name within the larger context of the city for better recognition (i.e., Main & Mill, at Lewisville) in the early years of this revitalization.
Other community input refers to this area as “Downtown Lewisville.” This is a descriptive term that identifies the regional location while projecting an urban assumption. This name could be used as a larger reference for the overall commercial footprint, while also defining key neighborhoods within the downtown environment (i.e. Main & Mill being the restaurant/entertainment core of downtown, Lewisville Medical District being a defined area around the hospital, etc.). This approach is used in many urban settings around the country, including such places as Downtown Boston (containing unique branded neighborhoods such as Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Faneuil Hall, the North End, etc.) and Downtown San Francisco (having Marina District, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Market Street, Union Square, etc.). While these are much larger areas than Lewisville, they show the benefits behind having a collection of memorable districts within one larger identity.
Old Town Programming Opportunities
- 36 acres of mixed-use residential
- 359 acres of mixed-use Transit Oriented Development