Some question, others like residential/commercial mix
By Karen Brainard
Ramona Village Design Group members pored through booklets of architectural standards and form-based codes proposed for Project Ramona, a plan to revitalize Main Street.
During the working session held last Thursday, members began to question the idea of mixed use — allowing office or retail in the same building with residential. Many said they did not want to see residential on the first floor in a downtown building.
Village Design member Steve Powell said he didn’t believe shop owners would live above their businesses downtown.
“We don’t have that kind of downtown,” he said. “I think that’s more idealistic.”
Members also discussed the plan’s civic space and how it should be near retail. Carol Fowler, village design vice chair, said she had recently been to Seaside, Fla., a master planned community on the Florida panhandle. Fowler said many of the homes were three-story and had businesses on the first floor.
“It was really cool. It was very charming,” she said.
Fowler also praised Seaside’s civic space, which was surrounded by retail shops and draws people.
“People walk around and shop,” she said.
Fowler added that it was helpful to actually be in a community with the type of mixed use that Howard Blackson, Howard Blackson has talked about. Blackson is the PlaceMakers’ consultant hired by the county to develop the town center plan.
Blackson, who is teaching a class of 12 students in the master’s program at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design, has the students working on projects for downtown Ramona. Village design group member Greg Roberson attended the Nov. 7 class midterm reviews and noted there was one project that linked civic with retail space.
Blackson is planning to have his students give their final project presentations in Ramona on Dec. 14 and has invited members of the village design group, as well as other groups and residents involved in Project Ramona, to view the presentations.
Village design chair Rob Lewallen said the group needs to give feedback about the Project Ramona documents to Blackson.