Downtown Master Plan features 7 catalyst projects


The City of Brownwood and Freese and Nichols on Monday morning presented the proposed Downtown Master Plan during an open house at the Lyric Theatre.

The purpose of the Downtown Master Plan is to update and expand on the vision and successes of the prior Downtown Master Plan from 2002-03. Specific focus has been put on the public investments that the City could or should undertake on its end to support a vibrant future for Downtown Brownwood.

We first contacted Freese and Nichols when we received our ARPA funds, which is our federal grant that the City received,” said Brownwood Deputy City Manager Marshal McIntosh. “In November 2022, Council invested in saying we needed to continue our downtown momentum. In January 2023, we started a 12-month kickoff process with Freese and Nichols and it’s been really insightful. Freese and Nichols is no stranger to the City of Brownwood, they completed our 2002 plan. A lot of communities our size would be extremely thrilled to be working with a team the caliber of Freese and Nichols.”

The Vision Statement of the Downtown Master Plan, as presented by Freese and Nichols, says, “Downtown Brownwood will be a destination filled with opportunities and spaces for all residents and visitors to experience close knit 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.”

Among the suggestions offered in the plan by Freese and Nichols were seven catalyst public projects Fisk Street Streetscape; Baker Street Streetscape; Brownwood Art Park (made possible by TexasBank); Event Center Railyard Park; Silos Promenade and Courtyard; City Hall Pocket Park and Visitors Kiosk; and Adams Branch Greenbelt Downtown Trailhead.

Freese and Nichols Project Manager Caitlyn Admire said, “We’ve got two streetscapes, a new art park, a couple of projects that are specific to supporting the Event Center, City Hall and how it can contribute better to the fabric and culture of downtown, and then the idea of an Adams Branch Greenbelt Trailhead that is, of course, dependent on a potentially larger project, the Adams Branch Greenbelt Trail.”

The following are highlights of each of the seven projects, listed in order of priority during Freese and Nichols’ presentation, along with comments from Admire:

Fisk Street Streetscape

  • Similar to Center Street
  • Generous, shaded sidewalks
  • Trees and landscaping in bump-outs
  • Angled on-street parking
  • Enhanced intersections for pedestrian safety
  • Utility enhancement, burying power lines

This is going to be really similar to what you have on Center Street, we would just look at doing the same thing along Fisk, which is the next most logical expansion of downtown small businesses,” Admire said. “This is the three blocks downtown from Chandler to Baker and that would include better sidewalks, shade, trees and landscaping. We heard a lot about underground power lines and as the streetscapes are enhanced, it would be better to go ahead and bury the power lines while you’re already doing the streetscape than coming back in a few years and burying power lines.”


Baker Street Streetscape

  • Traffic calming
  • Expanded and updated sidewalks
  • Landscape and amenities, such as lighting and benches
  • Parallel parking
  • Enhanced intersections for aesthetics and pedestrian safety
  • Utility enhancements, burying powerlines
  • Consolidation of trash collection

This is the eight blocks from Main down to Washington,” Admire said. “There is a proposed new public parking spot with some of the railroad land in that area so we wanted to make sure Baker was a connection thread from the new parking all the way back to Center. We’re looking at traffic calming there, where traffic is still there but a little slower. We’re also looking at parallel parking along this street and it’s pretty even, 1 for 1 parking, so we’re not really losing a significant amount of parking with these changes.”


Brownwood Art Park

(made possible by TexasBank)

  • Pathways, trellis elements, seating and landscaping
  • Central, interactive art pavilion
  • Sculpture park with native plantings
  • Multiple opportunities for various art installations, permanent and temporary
  • Ability to hold events

This a really fun idea and (BMDD Executive Director) Ray (Tipton) and Marshal have been talking to TexasBank about the part of their property that is undeveloped right now and they’re open to this idea of utilizing that piece of property for public good,” Admire said. “The survey said there wasn’t a lot for kids to do unless there was some kind of event going, so this is a way to create more open spaces and that would be a space you would go downtown for just to visit that space. This would have pathways and trellises, multiple locations for art installations, and naturalized sculptures. It would be able to hold events and also be just down the street from the Brownwood Art Association. You could partner with the Art Association to program that space with permanent or temporary or changing art exhibits. This would be at the southern most end of the three blocks of the Fisk Streetscape.”


Event Center Railyard Park

  • Pedestrian promenades leading to the Event Center
  • Lighting
  • Park nodes with shade structure, seating, and water features
  • Railcar installation
  • Native plantings
  • Opportunity to expand into the rest of the block

The Event Center is the big downtown investment,” Admire said. “We looked into how future investments can support that and make it even more successful than it’s already going to be. This is the 200 block of Carnegie, the intersection of Carnegie and Baker, right next to the Event Center. This is an important nexus in bringing in people off Baker and off Lee into the Event Center area. We also want to make it more than a space to pass through, but a space to be. We’re also recommending some kind of installation there, maybe a historic rail car that just plays off the cultural idea you already have going, and some water features. It’s place that can handle a lot of traffic when you have events, or just a nice place to sit.”


Silos Promenade and Courtyard

  • Promenade walkway and vendor alley
  • Small plaza
  • Multipurpose courtyard that can be used to support events – VIP lounge, vendor area, beer garden, etc.
  • Artwork or decorative lighting on the silos

This site is between the new parking over on Washington and the Event Center lawn,” Admire said. “Some of the idea here is how we get people easily from the parking lot to the Event Center. Down on the southern part, south of the silos, there’s another what we’re calling a promenade where tickets could be taken, or it could be a vendor alley. There’s a small courtyard along Congress and with the courtyard, it’s a space that can be used in conjunction with the Event Center lawn like a VIP lounge or beer garden, things like that. There’s something more to go with the Event Center space than just a big, green lawn.”


City Hall Pocket Park and Visitors Kiosk

  • Rearrange City Hall employee parking
  • New pocket park
  • Visitors kiosk with public restrooms
  • Updating City Hall facade
  • Signature water feature
  • Enhanced sidewalks, trellis elements, and landscaping
  • Architectural updates that tie structures together

City Hall is in a very prominent space along Center Avenue, so we thought what can they do to contribute a little more to downtown?” Admire said. “We did a little bit of work to rearrange the City employees parking. We’re reclaiming that space for a visitors pocket park and visitors kiosk. The kiosk would have information and public restrooms, and it could be staffed or not. And nothing to crazy to the City Hall building itself, but updating the facade and additional landscaping can give off the vibe you’re trying to give off with the rest of downtown.”


Adams Branch Greenbelt Downtown Trailhead

  • Dependent on a larger Adams Branch Greenbelt Project
  • Trailhead with parking, seating, bike storage, and repair station

This would be predicated on a larger Adams Branch Greenbelt Downtown Trail system but we do think this underused triangle parcel west of the Coliseum would be a good spot to activate with landscaping but also some parking, some bike facilities,” Admire said. “It would just be a downtown trailhead, either beginning or end for people on this larger citywide trail.”


A community survey of Brownwood residents resulted in the following takeaways that Freese and Nichols took into account when planning:

  • Opportunity in vacant properties
  • More engagement for kids and families
  • Create an official Cultural Arts District
  • Needed sidewalk improvements
  • More green space and pocket parks with seeding and shade
  • A way to celebrate more of the HPU adjacency


A final Downtown Master Plan will be presented to the Brownwood City Council in April for a vote, but for the next three weeks the community has an opportunity to share its input and suggestions as well.

Something Council has tried to prioritize is while they are the stakeholder group that will execute the plan, they want to have community input,” McIntosh said. “For the next three weeks, this plan is going to be online for comments and feedback. So before Council takes formal action, you’ll be able to process what you see. We hope the Downtown Plan is an invitation to reengage, an invitation to invest and an invitation for continued partnership. It’s going to take our business community, City, County, all entities working together and that’s one of the strengths Brownwood has right now.”

Asked about a potential timeline on the projects, McIntosh was hopeful something would be seen within 18 months regarding the Fisk and Baker projects – the first two on the City’s priority list – but several hurdles still remain.

More information can be found, and input can be provided, at between now and March 15.