Old Town’s new uptown look What made a streetscape project in Keller, Texas, a game-changer

Keller is one of CNN/Money Magazine’s “Top 100 Places to Live — America’s Best Small Towns.” It was a railroad hub in the ‘60s where destination shops and restaurants added to its eclectic downtown element. Before it merged with PSC, SRA designed an impressive streetscape downtown. SRA put the people of the city first in the design of Old Town Keller. Our team worked with City staff to balance big-city comforts with small-town charm.

The Master Plan was accomplished by SRA before it merged with PSC.

Old Town Keller had a mix of some retail property and some residential homes. All of the infrastructure was aging and needed replacing. We were successful in implementing the city’s vision to get visitors off the adjacent highway by turning the alleyway behind the businesses into an award-winning pedestrian promenade.

Owners were invited to share their comments at a come-and-go public meeting that laid out the vision of what we were hoping to do. We created 170 new parking spaces in the interior of the area to serve all the businesses.Owners were able to continue to operate during construction by the team addressing various business concerns and activities each week. When we were designing the underground pipelines, we tried to put as much flexibility horizontally and vertically in the design that we could make changes smoothly without change orders.

Old Town Keller was the “original heart” of Keller and a public gathering place. It was situated on the Texas and Pacific Railroad, and U.S. Highway 377 ran through it, going from Fort Worth to Denton. Keller was named in honor of the railroad foreman John C. Keller.

Containing some of the oldest buildings in Keller, Old Town Keller reflects a small Texas town of the early 1900s with charming light fixtures and homes. Modern artwork lends a vibrant upscale touch in the downtown district.

As part of the showpiece, we created an activity area for youths that features orange talk tubes, dance chimes (center foreground) that play as you jump on them, and a giant outdoor chess board with lightweight pieces.

Chic metal barriers with bubble cutouts provide a sense of enclosure but still allow motorists to walk freely to their cars. The raised planters, brickwork, and railway-theme gateways add to the ambiance.

This was the most important master plan and project that the City of Keller had undertaken in 20 years. From an engineering perspective, the entire infrastructure was redone, including streets, water and wastewater lines, and storm drainage.

From the landscape perspective, the promenade featured a variety of paving patterns, brick pavers, and areas for rotating or permanent pieces of art. The sidewalks were widened and fencing was placed next to the freeway for added protection of pedestrians.

To "announce" the streetscape and welcome visitors, various gateways evoking a railway theme stand tall at intersections.

Providing parking behind the buildings and away from the highway was the biggest safety factor of the project. Before the project began, motorists couldn’t park in front of the buildings because of the freeway. To get to the businesses, they had to navigate a narrow sidewalk. By reversing it and putting all the activities and parking behind the buildings, the team created a much safer environment.
This was once a dirt alleyway behind the businesses. the final product has proven to be an economic catalyst and showpiece for the City.
“During construction, the project brought so much interest that it generated more than $2 million of new development within that area.” – Larry Stone, PE, RPLS, the team leader of DFW Site Development and Planning in PSC’s Site Development and Planning Sector
“We had to do all of that (infrastructure) without putting them out of business or disrupting their business plan too much.” – Victor Baxter, RLA, the Director of Landscape Architecture and Planning Business Development for SRA/PSC.

The project received a Planning Excellence Recognition Award from the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association in 2017.

Today it is energetic and diverse. Besides being named one of the top 100 places to live in America, recent awards have included a spot in D Magazine’s “Top 20 Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Suburbs,” mentions in Fort Worth, Texas Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” lists, recognition as an “Emerging Art Town” by Southwest Art Magazine, certification as a Scenic City by the Scenic Texas organization, and third place among the “Top 10 Most Notable High-Growth Areas in the Country,” according to the Gadberry Group.

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