Over the past 18 months, Sargent Town Planning - in association with Lisa Wise Consulting - has prepared the Bellevue Corridor Community Plan for the City of Merced. The primary objectives of the Plan - funded by a grant from the Strategic Growth Council - is to define a clear vision and implementing policies to guilde the phased development of this 2,000-acre rural area separating - and eventually connecting - the existing town and the recently established University of California Merced Campus. Key goals include maximizing the use of public transit and active transportation modes and reducing dependence on automobile use to support the City's attainment of economic vitality, fiscal sustainability, public health and environmental quality goals.
The planning team worked closely and collaboratively with City staff, a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) of property owners, the University and other key stakeholders, and a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of City and County staff and other public agency representatives. Through that process the team has presented a series of alternative circulation networks, development patterns, land use mixes and intensities, and urban design character, converging toward a prefered alternative. The alternative that emerged is organized by a flexible, interconnected network of complete streets, parks, and other public open spaces. The network backbone responds to existing ownership patterns and natural drainages, with future fine-grained network and block structure flexible to respond to shifting economic opportunities over the several decades of anticipated growth in this area. The scale and character of development at several key centers are defined by the plan - a Gateway Center at Bellevue and Avenue G, an R&D Employment Center along Bellevue between Avenue G and Lake Road, and a mixed-use T.O.D. Center adjacent to the University at Bellevue and Lake. Bellevue Road is envisioned as a major boulevard, the primary regional gateway to the University. To the south of Bellevue, Mandeville Road is designed as the major transit corridor - most likely bus rapid transit (BRT) connecting the University to Downtown Merced and the neighborhood centers along the way. The Plan is currently under public review.