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Downtown Newhall Specific Plan

Santa Clarita, California
Firm Role
Street design, parking and transportation planning, coding, station area planning
2004 – 2005, adopted 2005
300 acres
Honors & Awards
  • 2007 Planning Excellence for Best Practice Award from the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Planning Association

In 2004, historic downtown Newhall was ailing. Its main street, where many early Westerns were filmed, had been widened into a four-lane state highway. High-speed traffic, narrow sidewalks, and outdated zoning rules discouraged investment and left storefronts vacant. To fix this, the city commissioned a new plan.

Patrick Siegman directed the plan’s transportation component while a Principal at Nelson\Nygaard, as part of a team led by Moule & Polyzoides. The work included preparing conceptual street designs, overseeing traffic studies, and providing parking and transportation strategies that would minimize costs, while maximizing transit ridership.

The plan has returned Main Street to its historic role as a community meeting place. A road diet, completed in 2010, has replaced traffic lanes with wide sidewalks and diagonal parking. New oaks, sycamores and mesquite trees line the brick and board sidewalks, creating a welcoming place to stroll and shop.

At the foot of Main, where the highway once slashed diagonally through a block, a public library now terminates the street’s axis. At the other end, a new roundabout creates a gateway to downtown, calming traffic and easing pedestrian crossings to Hart Park.

The plan’s form-based code eases approvals, while ensuring pedestrian-friendly architecture. A “Park Once” strategy lifts the burden of on-site parking requirements, replacing small, inefficient private lots with strategically located public parking.

New shops, restaurants, and a boutique hotel have relocated to the growing arts and entertainment district. The first public parking garage provides shared spots for a commuter rail station, retailers, and a new seven-screen theater. Junkyards and body shops have been transformed into transit-oriented mixed-use buildings, providing apartments above shops.

For its excellence in enabling transit-oriented development, the plan was awarded the Planning Excellence for Best Practice Award from the American Planning Association.

Images courtesy of Moule and Polyzoides and the City of Santa Clarita