City receives national recognition for downtown master plan

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published June 21, 2017

CLAWSON — The city of Clawson received some national attention last month for its recently updated downtown master plan.

The Clawson Downtown Development Authority and Detroit-based consulting firm Giffels Webster were presented with the 2017 Vernon Deines Honor Award for Outstanding Small Town Special Project Plan during the May 7 American Planning Association National Planning Conference in New York City.

In a press release announcing the award, Small Town and Rural Planning Division Awards Committee members said they were impressed that Clawson’s new plan reflects the community’s desire for downtown revitalization within the context of its history as a small suburban city.

The Clawson downtown master plan, originally adopted in 2015, provides an update to the city’s 2004 urban framework plan and succeeds the 2009 downtown master plan.

The Clawson Planning Commission and Downtown Development Authority partnered with Giffels Webster to develop and recently update the plan.

“(The new downtown master plan) purposely embraces the small-scale hometown reality of Clawson, while providing actionable strategies for meaningful revitalization and redevelopment,” Clawson Economic Development Coordinator Susie Stec said in a statement.

The plan is broken into subdistricts, including the core, east downtown, west downtown, suburban shopping and restaurant cluster.

The development of the master plan included resident and business owner input obtained through public meetings and Main Street Oakland County visioning efforts.

Giffels Webster also utilized its NextSteps for Downtown plan to guide the master plan process, which the firm describes as a straightforward and trackable plan to improve building stock, provide land use recommendations, enhance the streetscape, draw visitors and meet the daily needs of Clawson residents.

Committee members stated that the plan also features extensive use of photography and graphic renderings to help residents and property owners understand how the downtown will be strengthened through façade, signage and infill developments.

Rod Arroyo, partner at Giffels Webster, said the firm’s approach to planning combines both short- and long-term strategies to heighten the appeal of a downtown area, while maintaining the charm that makes a community unique.

Arroyo said his firm feels gratified to see its efforts in Clawson embraced by community stakeholders and recognized by the American Planning Association.

“The city of Clawson has been devoted to the planning process, and it started before we became involved in working with the downtown master plan,” Arroyo said, adding that city leaders were involved with different planning and visioning processes through the local and county level.

“All that hard work all came together, and the downtown master plan, I think, is a recognition of that extensive process and that ongoing commitment to planning for a quality downtown area,” he said.

Arroyo said that in ongoing support of the downtown plan, Giffels Webster is working with the city of Clawson to revise the municipality’s zoning standards to better guide development in the community.

The award was presented to City Council members during their regular June 6 meeting.