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DMC development plan will get an update

April 2, 2019 GMT

Lisa Clarke pointed repeatedly to a dogeared copy of the Destination Medical Center development plan during a recent interview.

“We really have a strong core in terms of our development plan,” she said. “We have a strong base and a background from which we do all of our work.”

It’s unclear whether the copy of the plan at Clarke side was one of the original printouts or merely a copy that has been moved from presentation to presentation. Either way, its pages have obviously been referenced repeatedly by the executive director of the DMC’s Economic Development Agency.

The first full draft of the plan was unveiled in the final weeks of 2014, following eight months of meetings, planning and community engagement. However, the document wasn’t fully adopted until four months later.

The adoption started the time clock on a 20-year initiative with the goal of spurring more than $5 billion in private investments with the assistance of up to $585 million in dedicated public spending.

Nearly four years after the plan was adopted, more than $690 million in private investment has been documented, and the DMC EDA is preparing to update the massive plan that serves as its foundation.

“In one short year, we will be at our five-year mark, so we start our phase two of DMC,” Clarke said.

Required updates

The state legislation that created the DMC initiative and outlined steps needed to access up to $411 million in state tax dollars requires the plan to be updated every five years.

To prepare for the first official plan update, the DMC EDA has already enlisted AECOM as a consultant to finalize an updated market analysis covering housing, hotels, retail spaces and other concerns.

The analysis will be combined with ongoing efforts, from studies completed in the last four years to evolving missions, in order to reflect current DMC trends.

It’s still uncertain how the new information will be added to the hundreds of pages DMC EDA staff members rely on to guide their work.

“What it physically looks like, we’re still undetermined on that, but my guess is it will be somewhat of an addendum or just noting the changes,” Clarke said.

“It doesn’t make sense to come in and revise an entire vision, rather just the segments that need revision based on the market,” she added.

New approach

While the initial plan came after months of dedicated community engagement, from large gatherings to individual surveys, Clarke said the approach will be modified for the update, since much of the information-gathering has been years in the making.

“Every time we pull out a subdistrict and start to work on it, we’ve done community engagement,” she said, noting that means plans for many of the updates won’t be a surprise to those who have been watching development unfold.

For the others, Bill Von Bank, DMC EDA director of marketing and communications, has noted several options already exist for updates, from DMC Corp. board meetings to the DMC EDA newsletter. Additionally, DMC EDA staff continually reach out to address emerging issues and decision points when needed.

Clarke said that as she and her staff prepare for the year-long look at updating the plan, she believes efforts will show the work is on the right track and any adjustments based on the market will benefit the next 15 years.

“Our job was to sort of spur this market and garner interest from developers and investors, which we’ve done,” she said. “The market is doing what we want the market to do. It’s active.”