Mason Mile Project continues with plans to enhance downtown, support local businesses

The Mason City Council received an update recently on strategic planning for downtown and central Mason’s future.

The area, dubbed the Mason Mile, includes about 850 properties.

“The Mason Mile Project is a community-led, market-driven project that is honoring history while building into the future of a fresh, healthy, and sustainable place for people to live, work, and play,” said Kacey Richards of the Mason Mile Project.

The Project is led by the Mason Deerfield Community Development Corporation, better known as MADECDC, in partnership with the City of Mason.

The work began with volunteers walking the area, taking photos and documenting information about the businesses in the area. MADECDC then created a request for proposals for organizations that could gather additional data, involve the community, and help develop strategies to further enhance a vibrant downtown.

Richards shared the group’s progress at the Nov.14 Mason City Council meeting. He told council members that MADECDC spent the month of August reviewing nine proposals and interviewing potential planners.

“We wanted to secure professional partners who would work within our budget and meet the community where we are.”

In the end, MADECDC contracted with Randall Gross Development Economics of Nashville to lead the planning effort, and they in turn subcontracted with BLDG Branding and Common Ground Urban Design and Planning. Richards said that having three organizations involved made sense.

“This will allow us to work on the areas of data and planning, community engagement, and branding at the same time rather than working with three firms independently,” Richards said.

Richards also told the city council, and those living and working in the 850 properties in the area, that their intent is to support what’s already there.

“We will honor all existing legal boundaries and land use restrictions, and respect property owners’ desires as we help our community imagine and define a vibrant, healthy, sustainable city heart,” he said.

The three firms were announced at the Downtown Committee of Council on Oct. 27 and at one of MADECDC’s quarterly meetings at Warped Wing on Nov. 3. Richards said that these quarterly meet-ups serve a valuable purpose for those with an interest in the Mason Mile.

“These meet-ups allow downtown residents, business owners, and property owners to connect and build and strengthen relationships.”

“We’re eager and excited to continue to build on the good work that’s been done over the years,” he said.

The next step in the process, anticipated to take about a year, is expected to result in recommendations for MADECDC and the city to enhance the downtown Mason area.

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