The Downtown Lufkin Economic Development and Public Realm Vision Plan will revitalize Downtown Lufkin in order to stimulate and attract economic growth, new development, and exciting events.
The planning process prioritized an equity-centered approach to community engagement. Through various mediums and platforms, the project was able to reach more than 1,000 residents of diverse backgrounds.
The connections to the neighborhoods are important in creating a sense of ownership and pride for the residents, and inviting them to celebrate the downtown amenities. The branding and wayfinding elements create a welcome message for Downtown Lufkin being a place for ALL.
Four "Big Ideas" were envisioned by the community to create safe and inviting spaces for visitors and residents alike. The variety of uses and designs would attract users of all race, income, age, and abilities.
Although Downtown Lufkin has a strong pedestrian environment and activated storefronts, Asakura Robinson identified a variety of projects, programs, and policies to improve downtown infrastructure, beautification, and events.
The project team worked with stakeholders, residents, and local business owners to develop a framework for the types of business and development downtown should attract; evaluate streetscape, public realm, and open space opportunities; and develop marketing and programmatic recommendations to help boost the small business community. From the engagement efforts, the project team developed recommendations that included six overarching strategies and eighteen objectives.
The overarching strategies include: (1) Enhance parks and open spaces as gathering spaces for residents and visitors; (2) Improve how people travel through downtown, both on foot and wheels; (3) Connect people to opportunities and downtown assets through signage and gateways; (4) Ensure downtown has a variety of programming and events that are accessible to households at various income levels; (5) Diversify and strengthen the downtown business community; (6) Create new tools for the City of Lufkin, LEDC, and other partners to enhance and attract development.
The Plan was adopted by the City Council in August 2021. Community members and the Lufkin Economic Development Council (LEDC) have begun implementing several recommendations. In October 2021, the LEDC partnered with a design/build team to execute the four “Big Ideas” which include First Street and the Historic Cotton Square redesign, creating new, and more representative, murals and public art, and updating Braunaugh Park. The project has officially kicked off and is anticipated to conclude in late 2023.
Downtown Lufkin has many cultural and historic assets, including the recently renovated historic Pines Theater, the ongoing renovations of the Angelina Hotel into apartments, and the Museum of East Texas. However, there are numerous vacant buildings and lots that remain empty and in poor condition, even as adjacent properties regain new life. Since the conclusion of the downtown planning process, significant redevelopment and cultural arts preservation efforts have propelled forward and maintained interest in fulfilling the Plan’s vision.
Lufkin Forward identified the desire to increase diversity among people of color and all ages when attracting downtown businesses and visitors. By acknowledging this desire, there has been an increase of minority and small businesses showing interest in relocating to downtown, and public leadership has expressed the desire to create new programs and funding opportunities to help these businesses. The Plan also identified the desire for culturally appropriate murals and public art, and property owners have begun offering their blank facades to become a mural’s canvas.
Although many of the recommendations are not complete, the interest and momentum to complete the vision and recommendations is strong and growing. The LEDC remains committed to this revitalization effort, allowing the LEDC to tap into a new source of economic growth for Lufkin and Angelina County- small businesses, creative class attraction, and increased sales tax revenue.
View the final plan here.