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Moss Point Mini-Charrette

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Moss Point Mini-Charrette
By Emily Ziring

MOSS POINT, MISSISSIPPI, December 17-19, 2005 -- Residents of Moss Point met with the design team from the Mississippi Renewal Forum in a series of meetings to fine-tune plans for their downtown district.

The mini-charrette was designed with two purposes in mind: 1) engage a wider cross section of community members in discussions about the city's post-Katrina future and 2) test alternatives for downtown's renewal consistent with the base flood elevation guidelines published by FEMA published and adopted by the city.

Listening and learning at the Moss Point mini-charrette.
Photos courtesy Steve Schukraft/HOK Planning Group.

To maintain the Renewal Forum's momentum, the design team wanted to bring the charrette experience to the community, draw more interest to the plans, check their initial assumptions about strategic investments and catalytic projects, and adjust plans and designs to better reflect community visions. The design team leader for Moss Point, Steve Schukraft, presented ideas for a revitalized downtown and riverfront that would complement the community's striking natural features. Several public buildings were badly damaged in the hurricane so the team identified alternative sites and prepared sketch plans for a new city hall, fire station, police station, and recreation center. The relocation of these buildings from the floodplain would provide space for an expanded riverfront park lined with new, slightly elevated buildings.

Above: Proposed design for Moss Point riverfront park. Image courtesy Steve Schukraft/HOK Planning Group. Below: Proposed mixed use buildings on the east side of Main Street. Sketch by Bruce Tolar.

The team will be talking with city officials over the next few weeks to determine next steps. When asked about priorities for rebuilding, Schukraft responded, "To place the riverfront/downtown work in a larger context, we suggested that the community think about rebuilding and renewal as happening on two parallel, interconnected tracks -- a strategic track designed to take early advantage of available support and assistance (the focus of our work to date) and a more comprehensive track to address systemic issues like neighborhood sustainability, equity, and economic development. In discussions with the mayor and alderman we suggested they needed to make progress on both tracks. To achieve real change, they needed to show early, tangible results while carefully planning for long term renewal."

The design team volunteered their time for the event, and the Governor's Commission paid for expenses. Two local architects -- Mitch McNabb of Allred McNabb in Pascagoula and Bruce Tolar of Tolar LeBatard Denmark in Ocean Springs -- provided valuable design assistance for the mini-charrette.

"Some other towns are still trying to decide whether the plans work," said Will Longwitz, spokesperson for the Governor's Commission. "Moss Point has already decided they want to make the plans their own and figure out ways to make it happen."

For more information, contact team leader