Downtown Master Plan survey reveals love of restaurants

Farmington Farmers Market
Respondents cited the Farmington Farmers Market among the things that make Farmington unique.

Fans of Downtown Farmington enjoy eating at local restaurants, attending downtown events, and appear to support most initiatives outlined in a new Master Plan for the area.

A survey open July 18 through August 12 drew 456 submissions, a significantly better-than-expected response.

“We were very, very excited. We were hoping for 300,” Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Director Annette Knowles said. “These are people who love the downtown and want to see it flourish.”

Some respondents said they’ve lived in the community for decades; others, less than a year. Most owned their homes. And a fair number of the respondents, Knowles said, came from outside Farmington, which captures “the marketplace, not just residents.”

The survey was designed around initiatives included in the 2016 Downtown Master Plan, from improving walkability, adding parking, and increasing quality housing options, to cultivating more art and green space. Respondents rated the  majority of initiatives at least somewhat important, Knowles said. Adding more pubs and restaurants and more shops got the strongest show of support; nearly half considered the addition of eating and drinking establishments very important.

Results will be used as a way to validate projects described in the Master Plan, Knowles said. Here are a few highlights from the full survey:

  • Nearly 75 percent of respondents said they would consider living within walking distance from downtown, if their preferred style of housing became available, and 75 percent chose “single family housing” as their preferred option. Unfortunately, Knowles said, “that’s not the kind of housing you’re going to see downtown, if you want density.”
  • About 84 percent want to see the DDA work to attract families with children to the downtown area; however, 61 percent said they don’t believe the downtown offers the type of housing those families would want.
  • When asked to describe what makes Farmington unique, many responses focused on the “small town” feel, downtown events, Farmers Market, Farmington Civic Theater, and historic district.
  • The majority of respondents fell in the 35-54 age range, and most live in families with children.
  • When asked about their primary source of information about downtown Farmington, social media sites won hands down. Knowles said that respondents also named Farmington Voice as a source for downtown information.