Mansfield Rising Update
By Maura TeynorJanuary 31, 2022
(Photo: As part of the Mansfield Rising Plan, the Voegle Apartments received a Façade Improvement grant.)
Progress is being made in Mansfield Rising projects. In 2018, the Richland County Foundation leadership took an unusual track to develop an investment strategy for downtown Mansfield. Instead of hiring a professional consulting firm, it had a citizen-led group create the plan.
The Foundation turned regular citizens into consultants which gives depth and authenticity to the plan. It provides a road map for projects and opportunities for partnerships to continue the renaissance of Mansfield.
The vision is for Mansfield to become an optimal place to conduct business, gather and live. This vision can be achieved through five key areas: effective land use, wayfinding, technical assistance for business, branding and marketing, and safety.
The Guiding Principles of the plan are downtown is everyone’s neighborhood, big city amenities with a small-town feel, sustainable change happens incrementally and placemaking is economic development.
A committee worked with Medium Giant to create a brand and message for Mansfield. The Richland Area Chamber and Economic Development and Destination Mansfield – Richland County will begin to use the new brand this year. Other organizations are invited to utilize it as well. The purpose of branding Mansfield and Richland County is to weave a powerful and positive story to raise awareness about why this is a great place to live, play and conduct business. Beyond raising awareness outside the city limits, a brand and positive message could improve the story Mansfield residents recite about their city. It could promote civic pride.
Public Art Project
The City of Mansfield in coordination with the Richland Community Development Group Art Sector created a Public Art Commission to vet projects. An installation at Hursh Drugs on South Diamond Street was the first project approved. Public art projects will be funded by various businesses and organizations with a 50% matching grant from the Richland County Foundation as part of its Mansfield Rising Project. Up to $50,000 in matching funds has been made available to create art in a variety of methods, including traditional painted murals, installed artistic wallscapes, window art, as well as temporary and permanent public art on visible walls and surfaces.
Richland County artists are encouraged to apply to take part in this transformative and revitalizing effort to beautify and create impact in downtown through art. For more information go to https://richlandareachamber.com/initiatives/community-development/ then click the Mansfield Arts and Culture tab.
Upgrade the City’s Main Arteries
Mansfield City Council approved a design plan to improve Main Street. Construction should begin in 2024. In 2021 the city converted Diamond Street to two-way traffic. Mulberry Street was converted in 2019. The changes will create a more walkable downtown.
Free Public Wi-Fi
The Downtown Improvement Board (License Plate Fee Committee) approved funding for free public Wi-Fi from Central Park to the Carrousel District as the first phase. The City of Mansfield IT Department will plan for additional phases. This is the first step towards a Smart City Plan.
Improve the Look of Businesses in Downtown
The Downtown Mansfield, Inc. Facade Improvement Fund received grant funding from the Foundation and Mansfield City Council. The matching grants will be awarded to building owners to make improvements. In 2021 five projects were completed: Voegle Apartments, K.E. McCartney, Dream Huge Realty, Hursh Drugs, and Swavory. Eight other projects were approved to begin. This will assist economic development and the rehabilitation of historic properties in downtown Mansfield. The funds will be administered by a committee consisting of individuals from the historic preservation commission, architects, designers, and community members to provide guidance and resources on facade improvements. The resources provided in conjunction with the grants will make for quality restorations and renovations consistent with community standards.
The Richland Community Development Group received a $25,000 AARP grant to create a pop-up linear park along West Third Street between Bowman and Mulberry streets. It was installed in September. Various businesses and nonprofit organizations provided programming to engage and attract the public.