Small Town Charm
North Manchester Comprehensive Plan
North Manchester, Indiana
AIA Excellence in Architecture Merit Award, American Institute of Architects – Fort Wayne Chapter
Rural America is aging at a rapid rate. A small town in Central Indiana decided to face the aging issue head-on by developing a comprehensive plan designed to create a sustainable community for all ages and abilities.
The town of North Manchester is a vibrant, creative Indiana community where everyone can live, learn, and prosper. But that’s not all. It’s a community with a vision.
As the demographics throughout rural Indiana dramatically shift in the coming years, with aging Baby Boomers and continued Brain Drain, North Manchester is taking an innovative look toward the future. By partnering with its citizens, businesses, and community organizations, MKM worked with the community to develop a comprehensive plan that represents their desire to foster a forward-looking vision for community development.
Supporting the growing interest in walkable downtowns by the rising Creative Class and the demand for dense urban villages by many older adults, North Manchester’s comprehensive plan was based on a “quality of life” strategy aimed to create a Lifelong Community that works to serve people of all ages and abilities. In 2015 North Manchester was voted “The Best Town to Retire in Indiana,” largely due to two existing retirement communities, a local University, and a relatively low cost of living. However, in combining its rich collection of cultural assets with its historic neighborhoods and downtown, this plan focused on a more comprehensive approach– promoting three basic strategies: (1) Work/Live Culture, (2) Aging-in-Place, and (3) Lifelong Learning.
Within this Lifelong Community focus, this plan embraced the coming demographic shifts as a way to develop a resilient and sustainable vision for the future – reacting to the needs of the community’s current older residents in a way that simultaneously attracts and retains emerging professionals.
As the Town moves more purposefully toward the framework of a “Lifetime Community,” this plan embraced these demographic shifts as a way to develop a resilient and sustainable vision for the future – reacting to the needs of the community’s current older residents in a way that simultaneously attracts and retains emerging professionals. With that, three large-scaled development opportunities were defined:
New Residential Development: A 90-acre parcel of agricultural land along the northwest corner of town presented an opportunity to construct a new housing development within walking distance of many of the community’s cultural institutions.
Market Street Redevelopment: Market Street serves as the primary north/south corridor within the community. With a series of town-owned land available for redevelopment, Market Street provides an opportunity to reestablish a vibrant linear neighborhood district connecting two large institutions (Manchester University and Peabody Retirement Community) to the historic downtown area.
Downtown/Riverfront Redevelopment: As the historic downtown area looks to the future, there is an opportunity for it to reengage the river it once relied upon. By redeveloping the downtown and river as one unified district, the community can begin to develop a vision for how they will strive to be a community for a lifetime – a vibrant, modern community designed to engage people of all ages and abilities.
This comprehensive plan is about inclusion. It is a vision for a community that takes ownership in its own future and pride in its citizens. This is an effort to create a community for a lifetime, a strategy that defines “quality of life” for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.