Community Open House to reveal Downtown Plan to be held at Lyric Theatre

Press Releases
Jan 22, 2024

The City of Brownwood will hold an open house at the Brownwood Lyric Theatre on February 26th, 2024 from 8 AM to 10 AM to review the new Downtown Master Plan. The event will provide the first opportunity for the public to view the draft of the full Downtown Master Plan. City of Brownwood staff and the Freese and Nichols design team will provide a formal presentation at 8:30 AM followed by a panel discussion.

After the downtown plan open house reveal, the public will have the ability to review the draft in its entirety and provide feedback online at

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 12 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 and streetscape 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 existing buildings

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 destination filled with opportunities and spaces for all residents and visitors to experience closeknit community life. Its distinctive charm emanates from the historic buildings and local businesses. Downtown Brownwood will cultivate a sense of community and belonging, making it a true home for all.

Goals drafted for the new downtown plan, according to Freese and Nichols, are:

  • Expand the range of activities to cater to all budgets and users seeking various ways to experience and enjoy Downtown.

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

  • Facilitate growth in Downtown that contributes to existing synergies and strengthens the historic character.

  • Invest in the public realm and open spaces to reflect community pride and become a reason to visit Downtown.

  • Address buildings and lots between Downtown destinations which remain vacant and underutilized

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 initial findings and 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 extensive feedback, Freese and Nichols drafted a plan for community input and will present to the Brownwood City Council for adoption in April of 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