Creating and implementing a plan for Old Shell Road from Broad Street to Interstate 65 is the first project of the Midtown Mobile Movement. Our goals include (1) hiring urban designers to create a plan for Old Shell Road spanning from Interstate 65 to Broad Street, (2) working with City and County representatives to implement projects stemming from the plan, and (3) improving the quality of life for all residents and merchants located along Old Shell Road by making it a walkable destination. Why Old Shell Road? In late 2014, before the Midtown Movement was officially established, a group of neighbors and business owners began meeting and decided to formalize an approach to improvements for Old Shell Road in Midtown by contacting the organization Main Street Alabama.
On February 3, 2015, a visioning session was conducted by Mary Helmer of Main Street Alabama at Ashland Place United Methodist Church. The invitation to participate was posted on NextDoor, Facebook, Email, and through flyers handed out along Old Shell Road to all businesses. Fifty-two residents and merchants of Old Shell Road Midtown attended. Some of the common desires of attendees were lighting, sidewalks, green space, and other infrastructure needs as well as updating the current zoning guidelines. One popular idea among attendees was the recruitment of a coffee/wine shop with bike racks. The result of the visioning session is a visioning statement that can be adopted and/or amended to guide the direction of improvements.
The visioning statement reads:
“Old Shell Road Midtown (OSRM) of 2020 is a regional draw for commuters between downtown Mobile and Spring Hill, as well as midtown residents, for upscale specialty shops and professional services. Offerings include a market style grocery store, coffee & wine shop, unique restaurants and locally owned businesses with locally made goods that set the OSRM district apart from the surrounding commercial areas. The midtown area is a snapshot of historic Mobile with diverse styles of architecture including a great framework of schools and churches. The close-knit walkable neighborhood offers mixed-use spaces that give the area a “village like” feel. Working in concert with the City of Mobile officials, a common vision of Old Shell Road midtown has been agreed upon, invested in and carried out. Blighted areas and neglected properties have been identified and targeted for improvement and safety concerns addressed. Infrastructure has been updated with street furniture, landscaping, green space, well-lit sidewalks and walking paths including a path along 3-Mile-Creek, which identify the midtown area as a cohesive district. Traffic is calmed with improved streets engineered to be pedestrian friendly. The result is a cleaner, neater, brighter, greener, district that retains its beauty and historic sense of place.”
In order to achieve this vision, a nonprofit is needed to advocate, educate and fundraise. Luckily, while these residents and business owners were working tirelessly to formalize the improvement efforts for Old Shell Road, Midtown Movement was being created. The two groups merged and are working together to create a better Midtown.