Bryan: City’s New Midtown Area Plan Offers Guide for Development
Featured Illustration (above): A conceptual drawing reimagines South College Avenue from downtown Bryan’s edge to College Station city limits. The Midtown Area Plan promotes commercial and residential redevelopment, mixed uses, recreation and open spaces. Image: City of Bryan
By Edmond Ortiz Bryan (Brazos County)–City Council on May 12 approved the Midtown Area Plan, which will guide the planned redevelopment of 2 square miles just southeast of downtown.
Midtown is bounded by South Texas Avenue and Finfeather Road from downtown Bryan to the College Station city limit. The Midtown Area Plan recommends two overarching strategies: investment in the South College Avenue corridor and incremental infill development of adjacent streets and properties.
Midtown Area Plan recommends strategies for redeveloping and revitalizing the South College Avenue corridor. Image: City of Bryan
According to a city press release, public and private investment on South College Avenue should focus on the creation of five “catalytic sites that would build upon the success of renovations to College Main Street and South College Avenue.
The plan proposes five “catalytic” project areas:
A Gateway demarcation project establishing an “arrival” point between Beck and Dodge streets at the southeastern edge of downtown.
A light-industrial area, it would be repurposed with mixed-use and multifamily residential development, public art, wayfinding signage, a roundabout, shared-use paths along the existing rail line;
The Railyard project area on West Carson Street west of South College is described as a “new gameday experience” destination with new residential development, outdoor spaces and infrastructure improvements meant to complement activities at and around Travis Field baseball stadium.
The Park project at Bryan Regional Park would represent public investment meant to enhance accessibility and neighborhood connectivity, as well as encourage small-scale shopping, dining, office and multi-living options along South College.
The Union Hill project would focus on culinary opportunities, including incubator restaurant concepts and micro-establishments.
North of Northgate, just north of College Station city limits, would emphasize mixed residential redevelopment, particularly incorporating the student living experience into the surrounding neighborhood.
The Midtown Area Plan proposes initiating five catalytic project areas along South College Avenues, as places for specific kinds of redevelopment. Image: City of Bryan
“These catalytic project designs are examples to start the conversation of what could be built on each site,” the news release stated.
“The intent is to stitch the entire length of the corridor together and to stimulate and support new development within Midtown.”
Regarding the second strategy, Bryan officials have said Midtown is subject to increasing housing demand from students, young professionals and retirees.
“When existing demand is bolstered by planned public investments like the regional park and the Catalytic Projects, the city will need a more efficient and accessible development process than it has today,” the plan’s executive summary states.
In order to accomplish this, the Midtown plan will rely on pattern zoning, an opt-in expedited permitting program that uses new site design guidelines, licensed architecture and pre-approved plans.
The plan also recommends several changes to current codes and processes, and new rules permitting cottage courtyard on large lots, and accessory dwelling units in backyards.
“Midtown is a prime area for growth and redevelopment in the near future, and we are pleased that we were able to listen to the residents and incorporate their ideas about how they would like to see it develop,” Mayor Andrew Nelson said in the release.
The plan can be found at this link. The city must next propose zoning changes to implement the Midtown plan. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and the council are expected to consider those zoning changes late this summer.
Midtown cottage is one of the types of residential development proposed by the city of Bryan’s Midtown Area Plan. Image: City of Bryan
Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.