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Rural Community Streetscape Creates New Kind of Shopping Experience

Named after a rock ledge on the nearby Big Nehama River, Falls City is strategically located halfway between Kansas City and Omaha in the southeast corner of Nebraska. This once-flourishing railroad community experienced a steady population decline beginning in the latter half of the 20th century as new interstates diverted commerce away from the area. While the rock ledge has long since vanished with the ever-changing flow of the river, the city is proactively taking strides to reinvigorate community pride and reignite investment in their still-popular business district.

They began these efforts with the commission of a downtown revitalization plan in 2010. From this study sprang numerous objectives for improving the downtown business district while still maintaining many of the town’s old-world charms. One prominent feature is the north/south roadway known as Stone Street which runs through the business district. Because this cobblestone brick street is extremely durable and provides character to the downtown, revitalization efforts in this area would focus on adding beautification elements and improving the walkability of the district.

Public Gathering Spaces & Welcoming Landscaping Highlights Improvements

Close up of an unmounted street sign being held in the palm of a man.

New street signs complement the updated streetscape features.

Snyder & Associates was selected by the city to provide design and construction services for the Stone Street Revitalization Phase II project. Funded in part with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies, this project is a continuation of the city’s downtown revitalization efforts that began with Phase I, located on Stone Street between 17th and 18th Streets. Phase II, extending along Stone Street between 16th and 17th Streets mimics enhancements in the previously completed portion. It incorporates similar beautification elements, including landscaping bed areas, decorative railings, and other amenities.

The project creates both an aesthetically pleasing and functional environment along the Stone Street corridor, providing pedestrian gathering spaces, landscaped planting beds that add enhanced color and depth, and ADA accessible walkways throughout. Our team developed staging strategies that allowed for continued tenant and business access and functionality for front door deliveries throughout the project. Snyder & Associates acted as the project designer, assisted with project bidding, and provided construction administration services through project completion. Other key elements included:

Accelerated Time-Frame to Complete Construction

At the outset of construction, a critical requirement was to have substantial completion before the Cobblestone Festival in August. This annual festival incorporates a parade, sidewalk flea markets along Stone Street, and festival gatherings within the project area. Snyder & Associates worked closely with city staff, business owners, and the project contractor to ensure this tight schedule was adhered to and construction wrapped up before the festival.

The Falls City revitalization improvements look to develop a comprehensive streetscape design, support utility infrastructure, and upgrade ADA amenities that unite this historic downtown region. Thanks to the pleasing quality-of-life amenities incorporated into the plans and the well-thought-out and easily accessible features, the Falls City business district is sure to be the city’s primary growth area for many years to come — continuing a community-friendly environment for another generation.