FOCUS 287, a new US 287 Corridor Strategic Plan adopted by the Arlington City Council, defines a long-term vision for the area that includes future growth and reinvestment in existing neighborhoods and businesses.The plan to create a one-of-a-kind destination also incorporates natural spaces, rural character and lower density neighborhoods valued by citizens living in the corridor, which also includes the city’s Tierra Verde Golf Club.“This is a significant corridor for the city. It’s the southwest gateway to Arlington,” said Alicia Winkelblech, Assistant Director for Strategic Planning for Arlington Community Development and Planning. “It’s also a space where we still have some developable land available. We wanted to revisit the area and make sure we were clearly identifying the goals for development.”The nearly seven-square-mile corridor described in FOCUS 287 borders Interstate 20 to the north and the Arlington city limits to the west and south. On the east, it borders portions of Calender Road, Harris Road, Ledbetter Road, Curry Road, Park Springs Boulevard, West Sublett Road, Kelly Elliot Road and SW Green Oaks Boulevard.Work on the strategic plan began in June 2015. An advisory committee made up of 20 stakeholders, such as residents and business owners, met three times to help formulate a plan. Two public meetings were also held and the City received 847 responses to an online resident survey.“That level of response told us there was strong interest,” Winkelblech said.City Councilwoman Sheri Capehart, who represents the district that includes the corridor, said it was important to create a plan that is significant and meaningful.“Through the process, we learned quite a few things. We learned that people who live along the corridor are very adamant about preserving what I would term the more rural environment along the corridor. It’s not just the trees and the habitat. It’s the overall feel of the corridor,” Capehart said. “They also were very articulate in letting us know there are neighborhood needs.”Some feedback planning staff heard included: a desire for upscale grocery stores and unique restaurants, as well as outdoor retail space similar to the Arlington Highlands; preferences for single-family housing on medium to large lots; and a need for preserving and increasing open spaces, parks and bicycle and pedestrian connectivity. FOCUS 287 blends those aspirations with land use evaluations, market condition data and previous planning efforts, such as 99 Square Miles, the 2015 update to the City of Arlington’s Comprehensive Plan.In a presentation to the City Council, the Community Development and Planning office highlighted the main goals contained in the 79-page plan. They are:
Reinvest in Existing Development
The plan outlines several ideas for helping existing businesses and encouraging high-quality design, including matching grants for façade improvements, interior renovations and landscaping. Matching grants could also help promote neighborhood projects that improve quality of life and protect property values.
Encourage Quality New Development
The study lists opportunities for existing zoning to be into aligned with the vision of future land use. That vision includes strategic commercial development and preservation of open spaces and a low-density development approach.
Focus 287 mentions several individual street projects to improve mobility as well as proposed and pedestrian and trail projects, such as a Sublett bridge pedestrian connection. The plan also notes that the North Central Texas Council of Governments and Texas Department of Transportation have identified the need for improvements to ease traffic congestion at Interstate 20 and US 287 and those agencies have begun making plans.
Create an Identity
This portion of the plan calls on the city to promote the “recreation-inspired character” of the area and its Tierra Verde Golf Club. It also would include better signage to promote signature streets and amenities.The Strategic Plan, which aligns with Arlington City Council priorities to Enhance Regional Mobility, Invest in Our Economy and Champion Great Neighborhoods, also presents a series of “Catalyst Opportunities” hoped to capture the imagination of developers and give them an indication of what is possible. Those concepts are diverse – from urban agriculture space to a mixed-use development with an open-air restaurant.Mike Talambas, a member of the stakeholder committee that helped form the plan, said he’s looking forward to seeing development that is guided by Focus 287.Talambas, who is also is a member of the Arlington Planning and Zoning Commission, said the land use plan provides “benchmarks and goals to achieve the ideal development that the residents and the City would like to see when it’s all built out.”He added: “It also gives developers an idea of what is expected, so that when they come with their potential development they can better align their vision with the City’s vision for the area.”