Imagine Plank Road: A Plan for Equitable Development

November 2019   Baton Rouge, LA

Client

  • Build Baton Rouge

Team

  • Studio Zewde
  • WHLC Architecture
  • Emergent Method
  • HNTB

A development plan centered on equity in a historic African-American commerical and residential corridor in North Baton Rouge that has been structurally disinvested.

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Key Points

A bold vision to revitalize a disinvested community, addressing economic development and community uplift.

Equity Framework

Through in-depth community and stakeholder consultation, guiding values for the development of Plank Road were identified, which shaped the five Benchmarks for Equitable Development. Each proposed strategy fulfilled one or more of the five benchmarks, ensuring that the plan, which is located in a corridor with wide socioeconomic disparities, take into account the impact of well-intentioned projects for the area.

Transit-Oriented Development and Community Ownership

"The plan sought to maximize on the planned installation of a bus rapid transit (BRT) line that would service the area and connect its residents to opportunities around East Baton Rouge. The team proposed seven catalytic, transit-oriented projects to anchor the corridor’s reinvestment to provide high-quality developments that enhance the walkability and livability for communities along Plank Road.

Community Voices

Led by Build Baton Rouge, the planning team informed and educated residents and businesses in the area and collected their ideas, hopes, and concerns through surveys, in-person experiential events, including a food truck roundup and street festival, a community roundtable, and collaboration with trained community ambassadors.

Imagine Plank Road: Plan for Equitable Development is an initiative of Build Baton Rouge (BBR), whose mission is to bring people and resources together to promote equitable investment, innovative development, and thriving communities across all of Baton Rouge.

This planning effort was part of a larger, coordinated focus on Plank Road, consisting of planning to introduce bus rapid transit (BRT) service connecting North Baton Rouge to Downtown and LSU, and the land banking of adjudicated and blighted parcels to support catalytic development projects. These efforts represent an unprecedented level of investment targeting some of Baton Rouge’s most disinvested neighborhoods.

The Plan was the culmination of several months of intense engagement of people of all ages and backgrounds who hold a stake in the Plank Road Corridor. It contains findings from analysis of deep-seated socioeconomic and physical challenges, and of greater significance, the community’s unique strengths and assets: a strong sense of civic pride, cultural identity, and entrepreneurial spirit. It lays out a broad-based and inclusive vision for the Corridor.

Finally, it offers a roadmap to address land, economic and community development that equitably responds to the needs of the adjacent neighborhoods and the broader Baton Rouge metropolitan area. This framework serves as a guide to public entities, businesses, residents, property owners, foundations, and nonprofit organizations to work together to build healthy, prosperous and resilient neighborhoods in North Baton Rouge.

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