Downtown Strategic Plan - High Point, NC

HighPointForward High Point, Inc. was formed six years ago by the City of High Point to spearhead the City Council’s Goals of bringing new investment, businesses, employees and residents into a quadrant of downtown that had been seeing a decline in business, activity and value. FHP took the lead in the development of a catalyst project (Multi-Use Stadium - Truist Point Stadium). During these past six years, FHP has operated primarily as a very proactive economic development organization.

The Stadium is in full operation and the initial development goals have been surpassed. This downtown area is seeing the steady influx of new investment, restaurants and offices; with substantial residential and hospitality projects planned. Forward High Point and the City of High Point agree that it is crucial that the organization take time to assess its goals and objectives, while looking to transform FHP into a more “typical” downtown development organization, with greater focus on urban environmental management, branding, and marketing. To that end, FHP hired Benchmark Planning to guide the development of a strategic planning process for the downtown area, to lead the community’s efforts over the next 5-years and beyond.

The Strategic Plan will examine current economic development plans, community desires, physical and social assets, and existing organizational structures to make recommendations for FHP and the City of High Point to best meet the community’s vision for an inclusive, livable, healthy, family-friendly, economically vibrant, and exciting downtown. When complete, it will be used as a tool to help make policy decisions and promote downtown investment. FHP believes that downtown is the heart of the community and should be a place that is welcoming to all residents and visitors. The strategic planning process will provide an opportunity for the community to get involved and share their thoughts and ideas on the issues that matter most to the future of downtown.

Comprehensive Plan and CAMA Plan - Onslow County, NC

OnslowLocated along the southern coast of North Carolina, Onslow County is made up of a beautiful rural coastal plain environment from the historic town of Swansboro, to Sneads Ferry and North Topsail Beach.  The County is also home to municipalities of Richlands and Jacksonville, and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.  The Plan will consider land use and growth throughout county, including compatible use between military operational and training impacts associated with Camp Lejeune and Marin Corps Air Station New River.

Onslow County’s population has grown to nearly 210,000 people.  As the County continues to move forward, it has retained the services of Benchmark Planning to help develop a Comprehensive Plan that also incorporates the requirements of the NC Coastal Area Management Act of 1974.  Over the next 18 months, Benchmark will work closely with County Staff, the Planning Board, and the community to develop the new Plan, addressing the growth concerns of the community within the context of protecting the critical natural resources that make Onslow County a great place to live, work, and play.    

Downtown Master Plan - Elon, NC

ElonThe Town of Elon, centrally located in the Piedmont Triad Region of North Carolina, is a university town, home to Elon University, a growing mid-sized private university renowned as a national model for engaged and experiential learning. The Town has hired Benchmark Planning to craft a Downtown Master Plan that builds upon former planning efforts, while creating a unified vision for the development and redevelopment of Downtown Elon for years to come. The process will focus on engaging citizens, business owners, property owners, government officials, and all other related entities and institutions in developing a vision and master plan for the downtown that strengthens the town-gown relationship.

The Plan will facilitate the direction, type, location, and scale of new development and associated downtown improvements for the next ten years with a focus on achievable outcomes over the next five years. Included recommendations around infrastructure may result in substantial changes to downtown initiatives, with a renewed focus on context-sensitive urban design. The Plan will also provide recommendations on the development of a new streetscape to create a vibrant and attractive street scene for the downtown moving forward.

Comprehensive Plan - Seneca, SC

SenecaAs the City of Seneca prepares to celebrate its sesquicentennial, it has hired Benchmark Planning to guide the development of its new Comprehensive Plan.  Seneca is located in the heart of the Lake Keowee region next door to Clemson University, bordering the mountains of North Carolina and Northeast Georgia.  Seneca is the largest town in Oconee County, SC, serving as the county’s cultural and economic centerpiece.  The city of just over 9,000 population, attracts visitors to its charming downtown for events and entertainment in the popular Ram Cat Alley historic district.  Benchmark will be working closely with the City Staff and Planning Commission to engage the community in preparing a vision and action plan as it moves forward into the next 150 years.

Downtown Master Plan - Clayton, NC

ClaytonThe Town of Clayton, located in the fast-growing Research Triangle Region, has identified the need to prepare a small area plan for its downtown in the 2045 Comprehensive Growth Plan.  The downtown area has experienced the opening of many new businesses along Main Street and revitalization of neighborhoods adjacent to the core downtown.  The Town has hired a multi-disciplinary team of consultants led by Benchmark Planning and McAdams to conduct a study of this area and prepare a Downtown Master Plan for Clayton.  The Plan will include a market analysis, identification of opportunity sites, transportation, architectural, and urban design recommendations for strengthening the growth and development of the downtown area.

Comprehensive Plan and CAMA Plan - Cedar Point, NC

CedarPointCedar Point is an incorporated town of almost 2,000 people located in western Carteret County on a peninsula between the White Oak River, the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway, and Bogue Sound.  Although it has experienced moderate growth in recent years, it has remained a peaceful coastal town nestled within the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Benchmark Planning has been contracted by the Town to update its 2012 Coastal Area Management (CAMA) Plan required by the NC Coastal Area Management Act of 1974 and to develop a new Comprehensive Plan for the community.  The Plan will address growth, land use, transportation, utilities, and other plans previously adopted by the Town. The updated plan will focus on responsible growth and development while providing a sustainable plan for protecting the Town’s natural resources. The plan will also create the policy framework for the update and implementation of the Town’s development ordinances.

Business Improvement District Study - Raleigh, NC

Blue Ridge CorridorBenchmark is working with the Blue Ridge Corridor Alliance in Raleigh to outline a blueprint for establishing a potential Greater Blue Ridge Corridor Business Improvement District, known as a Municipal Service District in North Carolina. The corridor is home to a wide-variety of healthcare, university, office, business, government, college and professional sports, entertainment venues, and residential neighborhoods. Some of the major public entities and uses within the corridor include the North Carolina State Fair, NC Museum of Art, UNC Rex Hospital, PNC Arena, and NC State University. The study will examine potential boundaries for the district, potential revenues and services, organizational structure, general operating plan and budget, including an action plan for moving forward.

Innovation District Master Plan - Portsmouth, VA

LancasterBenchmark was recently selected by the City of Portsmouth (97,915 pop.) to help develop a Master Plan for an Innovation District in the Uptown area. The city envisions this new Innovation District to be a vibrant area with public green space, pedestrian connectivity, and a distinctive identity that attracts a diverse collection of innovative companies and workers. The district will capitalize on the growing resilience economy that is developing in Hampton Roads. Benchmark will assess the existing conditions and infrastructure of the district; evaluate zoning standards and boundaries of the district; identify potential public improvements and planning recommendations; conduct scenario planning and economic analyses of potential development options; research economic and zoning incentives for attracting desired development; ensure equity within the district and surrounding communities; and guide early implementation efforts. Ultimately, the planning process will help to build coalitions with future leaders and champions of the district.

Comprehensive Plan - Lancaster County, SC

LancasterLancaster County, South Carolina is one of the fastest growing counties in the expanding Charlotte Metro region and the State of South Carolina, adding more than 34,000 people from 2000 to 2020. The County has contracted with Benchmark Planning to help prepare a Comprehensive Plan to guide how Lancaster County grows and develops over the next 20 years. Specifically, the Lancaster 2040 planning process will focus on developing recommendations for the distinct geographic regions of the county: the Panhandle, Greater Lancaster, Southern Lancaster, and the county as a whole.

Downtown Master Plan - Mount Airy, NC

MountAiryThe City of Mount Airy is a thriving city of almost 10,000 people with a growing and vibrant downtown. The City has retained Benchmark Planning to guide the development of a Downtown Master Plan to guide the growth and development of downtown over the next 5 to 10 years. Historic Downtown Mount Airy offers urban living that is enhanced by the serene beauty of the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The downtown is home to local art, live music, abundant shopping, local wine, craft brews, and authentic dining experiences. Fostering a diverse variety of small businesses, services, and friendly people, Mount Airy is a true Southern Town with all the charm of Mayberry.

Comprehensive Plan - Bermuda Run, NC

ChapinThe Town of Bermuda Run, located within the Winston-Salem metro region, recently began the process of updating their Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan, which was last updated in 2017, sets goals and provides strategies for the character and identity of the Town, economic development, land use, infrastructure, and public services. Benchmark Planning was hired to prepare the Town’s first Comprehensive Plan in 2012 and has worked closely with the Town to update the Plan every five years.

Comprehensive Plan - Chapin, SC

ChapinThe Town of Chapin, South Carolina is located within the Columbia metropolitan area of South Carolina and is known by many as the Capital of Lake Murray. The population within the town limits is 1,600 people; however, the broader Chapin community encompasses a much larger area of nearly 30,000 people. The Town and its surrounding area are growing at a fast rate with new residential and commercial development underway. In order to maximize the Town’s growth opportunities, the Town has selected Benchmark Planning to prepare the update to its 10-year Comprehensive Plan.

Historic District Design Guidelines - Hillsborough, NC

HillsboroughThe Town of Hillsborough was awarded a 2020 federal Historic Preservation Fund grant for Certified Local Governments from the National Park Service, administered through the State Historic Preservation Office (HPO) of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History to prepare updates to its Historic District Design Guidelines. The Hillsborough Historic District presents a visual history of Hillsborough's development. The town chose to respect this development history through the passage of a preservation ordinance in 1973, creating the district. A structure is considered historic if it falls within the period of significance. This period ends 50 years before the current year. The Historic District includes the town’s commercial core and the surrounding residential neighborhoods. It contains more than 100 houses, churches, and buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. The styles range from Georgian- and Federal-style buildings dating to the late 1700s to contemporary construction. The district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Benchmark Planning is working with Hill Studio, the Town Staff, the Historic District Commission, and other interested parties to develop the updates to the guidelines. The goal is to produce an updated and comprehensive set of design standards in a digital medium that is easy to edit and update.

Downtown Design Guidelines - Lumberton, NC

lumberton squareA City of 21,000, Lumberton is located within the Coastal Plains region of southeastern North Carolina nestled along the banks of the Lumber River. The City is a regional hub of business activity positioned at the crossroads of Interstate 95 and Interstate 74 (US 74). Lumberton’s geographic location at the midpoint between New York and Florida has led to the development of the hospitality industry along Interstate 95. Hotels and restaurants serve travelers and provide employment opportunities within the region. The City hired Benchmark Planning to prepare its Downtown Master Plan, which has provided the vision for completing the performance stage and fountain on the square, the Lumber River overlook and trail, downtown building façade improvements, and several other enhancement projects within downtown.

As part of the next phase of implementation, the City has engaged Benchmark Planning to prepare Downtown Design Guidelines and a strategy for maintaining the historically significant buildings and structures in the downtown, supporting the continued private investment in Lumberton’s ongoing downtown revitalization efforts.

Comprehensive Land Use Plan - Cleveland County, NC

cleveland1Nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains at the center of two of the largest metropolitan areas in the Carolinas, Cleveland County, North Carolina is a gateway to Charlotte and Asheville. Cleveland County is anchored by the charm of its small towns and community-centered values. The County is poised to take advantage of the many opportunities that are ahead. In order to be prepared for the future, the Board of Commissioners engaged Benchmark Planning to update the 2005 Land Use Plan. The updated plan will serve as the foundational document to guide all aspects of growth and development within the County over the next 10 years. The Plan will provide a long-range strategic direction to elected officials, appointed boards, and staff as they develop and implement projects, programs, and policies to move the County forward in a well-organized manner.

Parks & Recreation Master Plan - Randleman, NC

RandlemanThe City of Randleman is located in the heart of North Carolina within a short drive of the Piedmont Triad and just over an hour from Raleigh and Charlotte. The City of 4,100 in population has a growing business community with a strong downtown that is the heart of the community. The City, established on a textile driven economy, has helped reconnect the community to the Deep River through the creation of the Deep River Greenway. The City is currently working to renovate all of its parks and recreation facilities. As part of that effort to improve its parks and recreation, the City has retained the services of Benchmark Planning to update its Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The Plan will include significant public engagement to establish a five-year strategy to achieve the vision for improving the parks and recreation facilities and supporting programs.

Downtown Master Plan - Concord, NC

ConcordThe City of Concord is a growing urban center of nearly 95,000 population along Interstate 85 north of Charlotte. Benchmark Planning prepared a Downtown Master Plan and Urban Design Plan for the City of Concord that was adopted in 2016. Since that time, over $15 Million has been invested by the public sector in downtown with nearly $24 Million in private sector investment, accomplishing many of the 2016 Plan’s goals and strategies. Nearly 50 housing units have been added to downtown, including a +600-space county-owned parking deck, a variety of infrastructure improvements, and nearly 300 residential units with supporting retail and office that is nearing the construction phase. The Master Plan update aims to keep the momentum moving forward, creating a strategic vision for the downtown for the next five years.

Comprehensive Plan - Lake Park, NC

Lake ParkLake Park is a village in northwest Union County, approximately 15 miles from Charlotte’s Center City.  The Village includes a variety of traditional single-family homes, patio homes, condominiums, and townhomes.  The amenities of the community include a number of parks and recreation facilities with tree-lined streets and sidewalks connecting them.  The natural resources are highlighted by over 10 ponds that provide scenic views and recreational opportunities.  The center of the village includes the Village’s landmark, a chiming clocktower that overlooks the Village’s churches, schools, shops, and offices.  Benchmark is working with the Village to prepare a plan that provides direction for maintaining the community’s character and charm while directing infill development within the Village and commercial center.

Comprehensive Plan - Louisburg, NC

LouisburgWith a population of 3,535, the Town of Louisburg is a charming community with a revitalizing downtown on the banks of the Tar River.  The Town is located in the center of Franklin County and serves as the County seat and retail hub for the region.  The Town is within commuting distance RTP and has sufficient utility service and capacity to support future growth. Louisburg is also home to Louisburg College, the oldest two-year private college in the United States.  As a separate project, Benchmark has also been retained to prepare a parking study for the downtown central business district.

Comprehensive Plan - Midway, NC

MidwayThe Town of Midway is a community of 4,873 people that is located in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. Since its incorporation in 2006, this once bedroom community for the City of Winston-Salem is working to develop dining, shopping, working, and recreation opportunities while strengthening their small-town atmosphere. The Town has hired Benchmark Planning to prepare a Comprehensive Plan that will establish the “blueprint” for the future of the Town with a clear vision and focused goals. During the process, Benchmark will examine past and current development trends, previously approved plans, demographic and economic data, and community perceptions, in order to prioritize methods to fulfill the Town’s vision for the future. The Plan is a policy document that establishes guidance on land use, transportation, business development, recreation, and general services.

Valley Boulevard Corridor Study - Blowing Rock, NC

ValleyBoulevardIn the Spring of 2019, the Town of Blowing Rock formed a committee to study the US 321 / Valley Boulevard corridor. The Town engaged Benchmark Planning to assist with the study, working close with the community and the committee to create a vision for the corridor.  The study area extended approximately 2.5 miles along Valley Boulevard from Main Street on the south end to Blowing Rock Lodge on the north end.  Blowing Rock is an historic mountain resort community that serves as the gateway to the NC High Country, and is the de facto cultural capital of the region. With numerous ski resorts, National and State Parks, and a direct connection to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock is a year-round destination for vacationers. Blowing Rock has also emerged as a highly regarded retirement destination, which has led to significant increases in economic activity in the local healthcare industry.

Comprehensive Plan - Jamestown, NC

jamestownlibraryThe historic Town of Jamestown is part of the Piedmont Triad region and is located in Guilford County, North Carolina. Jamestown shares a border with both the City of High Point and the City of Greensboro and is positioned near I-85 Business and I-73, only 10 miles southeast of Piedmont Triad International Airport. The Town, approximately 4,300 in population, continues to identify ways to preserve and enhance a high quality of life for all residents to enjoy. The Town has hired Benchmark Planning to work closely with a Comprehensive Plan Committee to prepare a Plan that identifies strategies and actions to support economic diversification, growth management, and creating an even greater sense of place. Over the next 12 to 14 months, the process will include significant public outreach and input into the development of the overall Plan.

Compatible Use Study - Little Rock Air Force Base, AR

LRAFBThe Little Rock Air Force Base (AFB) Compatible Use Study (CUS) is a cooperative planning effort among Little Rock AFB, White County, Pulaski County, Lonoke County, Cabot, Sherwood, Jacksonville, Lonoke, Maumelle, North Little Rock and other jurisdictions and other affected stakeholders in the community. The Compatible Use Study identifies means of promoting responsible land use, accommodating compatible growth and economic development, protecting public safety and quality of life, and sustaining the mission of the Air Force in the region for the long-term. The study is administered by the Jacksonville Economic Development and Cultural Alliance and co-funded through a grant from the Department of Defense (DOD), Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA).  Benchmark Planning is leading the land use compatible use analysis as part of the White & Smith planning team selected for this project.

Downtown Master Plan - Dillon, SC

DillonDowntownThe City of Dillon, population 6,500, is poised for development and growth from the State of South Carolina’s recent investment in the Inland Port Dillon.  Inland Port Dillon just opened in 2018 and is the heart of the 3,400-acre Carolinas I-95 Mega Site with CSX rail access along its eastern boundary and truck access to I-95 along the northern and western boundaries.  In addition to the growth expected from the opening of the Inland Port, the City is working with business owners, property owners and the entire community to improve downtown, expanding daytime opportunities and establishing evening dining and entertainment options.  As the County Seat of Dillon County, Dillon’s daytime population expands to over 18,000 people.  The City has hired Benchmark Planning to help develop strategies to encourage private reinvestment in downtown buildings, while exploring ways to improve evening dining and entertainment options.  Benchmark will develop actions to be taken by the public and private sectors to improve downtown.

Development Code Rewrite - York County, SC

York CoBenchmark Planning is part of a team led by White & Smith to assist York County with updating their development code – Recode York County. Recode York County is an initiative to review, update, and realign York County's Zoning and Subdivision Codes to better reflect the current and future development context in the county. The revised land use and development ordinances will be updated to implement the policies and goals of 2035 York Forward, the County's adopted Comprehensive Plan, as well as associated small area plans.  Other goals of the process include: a) Modernizing the Codes to incorporate current best practices; b) Making the Codes more user-friendly, with additional graphics and a more intuitive organizational structure; c) Improving consistency between the Codes and related County ordinances, standards and regulations; d) Enhancing the predicatbility of development outcomes; e) Permitting flexibility, where appropriate; and f) Eliminating barriers to development that is consistent with adopted plans.  York County is located within the fast growing Charlotte Metropolitan Area.