This Think Tank session was sponsored by RCB Bank.
Josh Kunkel, Architect with Crafton Tull, presented a case study review of both local and nationwide districts. He began with the importance of a unified look and brand to distinguish the area. Some examples include the Kansas City Power & Light District, The Broken Arrow Rose District and the Dallas Arts District. The branding of a district is important to tie into the details of a place. For example the Blue Dome District is implementing domed light fixtures with blue LED lights on the top to further communicate boundaries. He did point out that Strong Towns recommends that place comes first because decorative lights without a place is just bling without a soul.
Kunkel presented a number of data points reviewing how places were built including commuter patterns, travel times, home ownership rates, and migration between rural and suburban areas. He recommended that districts can be named from a number of elements including namesakes, architecture, products, ethnicity, and geography. One example of geography would be the West Bend District near the Will Rogers Memorial Museum, Claremore Expo and Rogers State University. This is a bend on the west side of town.
Walkability and parking was another key discussion point. Kunkel argued it is important to create awareness and experiences so that you can begin to shift cultures toward putting walking in perspective. He compared a Walmart parcel to that of downtown Goergetown, being equal in size. However, it is not always considered from this manner. Finally, Kunkel argued that having a cornerstone to anchor your downtown area helps drive the success allowing districts to thrive.