Downtown Master Plan recommendations previewed at open house

Press Releases
Aug 22, 2023

The City of Brownwood has partnered with Freese and Nichols, Inc., an engineering and planning firm to develop a new Master Downtown Plan. The purpose of a new Downtown Master Plan is to develop strategies, guiding principles, and action plans that will assist the City of Brownwood to further enhance the revitalization efforts in the downtown district. 

The City of Brownwood’s last Downtown Plan was completed in 2002/2003 by Freese & Nichols, which contained a 20-year action plan that expired in 2022. The Brownwood City Council voted to approve a resolution awarding the professional contract to Freese and Nichols, Inc., and to be funded through the American Rescue Plan on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. 

2003 Downtown Master Plan Successes

  • Event Center Complex Location & Redevelopment

  • Center Street Streetscape

  • Pat Coursey Park

  • Wayfinding (in progress)

  • Lehnis Railroad Museum Location

  • Historic Zoning Implementation

  • Economic Development Incentives

Pat Coursey Park
Pat Coursey Park
Lehnis Railroad Museum & Visitor Center
Lehnis Railroad Museum & Visitor Center
Downtown Wayfinding
Downtown Wayfinding Phase I

The Master Downtown Plan will establish a guiding vision for the downtown district; provide ample opportunities for stakeholder engagement; analyze the commercial, retail, and residential markets and identify needs and opportunities; analyze zoning and land use needs. Analysis findings would offer a site-specific development opportunity analysis for the most impactful opportunities; recommend and prioritize strategies and projects for place-making and public spaces; and provide a plan for implementing recommendations. Included in the deliverables of the plan would be an assessment of current infrastructure and future infrastructure needs of downtown Brownwood, action-oriented recommendations to implement that vision, and identification of a series of near and longer-term public sector catalyst projects to help keep private sector momentum moving in the right direction

Wendy Shabay Bonneau, Vice President/Principal for Freese and Nichols opens introductions for presentation to Downtown Business Inc. attendees at the Lyric Theatre at a previous community engagement event.

Freese and Nichols has received feedback from the community over the past few months through a series of surveys, with top concerns listed as follows:

  • Opportunity in vacant properties

  • More engagement for kids and families

  • Create an official Cultural Arts District

  • Needed sidewalk improvements

  • More green space and pocket parks, with seating and shade

  • A way to celebrate more of the HPU adjacency

  • Shopping and dining as the primary activities

  • People recognize/appreciate the recent growth and development

  • Desire for more family-friendly entertainment and outdoor spaces

  • Enhancement of buildings was the top priority

Based on the community engagement, and conversations with City of Brownwood, Freese and Nichols came up with the following draft vision statement for the new Downtown Master Plan:

“Downtown Brownwood will be a place of pride for the community, offering opportunities and spaces for all residents and visitors to participate in community life. It will provide a unique experience through its historic buildings and local businesses that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.”

Preliminary goals drafted for the new plan, according to Freese and Nichols, are:

  • Offer a great variety of activities for uses, including families, students, and people who want to spend time Downtown without spending a lot of money

  • Support local small and unique businesses in locating and staying in Downtown and generate an atmosphere that allows them to thrive

  • Facilitate growth in Downtown in such a way that contributes to existing synergies and strengthens its historic character

  • Invest in the public realm and open spaces so they reflect the community’s pride and are in and of themselves a reason to visit Downtown

  • Address vacant buildings and underutilized lots to fill in the spaces between the major Downtown destinations.

In the current phase of exploring and establishing land uses, districts, and character areas for Downtown. The following separation of districts were presented:

  • Downtown Core

  • Historic District

  • Transition Zone

  • Convention and Events District

  • Supporting Area

Downtown Plan Public Feedback
Receiving public feedback on concepts presented at previous open house
Funding Exercise Downtown Plan
Interactive funding priority exercise with Downtown stakeholders
Feedback Downtown Plan
Downtown stakeholders provide feedback on vision boards to help direct vision of plan.

Freese and Nichols presented a preview of current phase recommendations during a downtown merchant open house held at the Lyric Theatre on August 22, 2023. In addition, the project team collected insight from attendees, provided an update to City Council for feedback on land use, districts, and proposed character plan phasing, met with City Staff, toured focused properties within the district, and discussed the next steps moving forward.

After receiving feedback, Freese and Nichols will draft a plan for community input over the last quarter of 2023 to present to the Brownwood City Council for adoption in 2024.

Freese and Nichols Project team of Chris Sisons, Project Designer & Planner; Caitlin Admire, Project Manager; Wendy Bonneau, Principal; and Travis James, Market & Fiscal Advisory of TXP.

Freese and Nichols, Inc. is an engineering, urban planning, and architecture firm offering a wide range of services to public sector clients for more than 125 years. FNI focuses on providing its clients with innovative approaches, practical results, and outstanding services.  As a full-service consulting firm, they offer hundreds of specialty services and take a holistic view of their client’s challenges, providing tailored, advanced solutions and delivering exemplary plans, designs, and codes.

To learn more about the City of Brownwood Downtown Master Plan's ongoing progress, and how to provide your feedback throughout the process please visit