Beatrice Community Projects

Court Street Corridor Master Plan: Overall Plan

Master Plan: Vision

This master plan proposes to re-envision Court Street as a “pedestrian-first” place, where people of all ages and backgrounds desire to be. The two roundabouts proposed in the Highway 136 rerouting plan should be enhanced with features designed to announce the corridor's prominence as a vibrant and interesting place. Wayfinding features should also be included that intuitively signal to non-truck traffic that there is a downtown worth visiting.

The central three blocks of the plan are envisioned as a traditional urban streetscape, with enhanced paving that provides flexibility to everyday users of the corridor as well as the ability to accommodate a wire array of potential events. Street trees and planting beds (Example #1 below) should be thoughtfully placed to provide shade and aesthetic benefits to these blocks. A range of pedestrian furnishings and amenities including seating, benches, bike racks, trash receptacles, above-ground planters, and decorative lighting should also be provided to facilitate a sense of comfort and place. Finally, there is an opportunity for a canopy of festival-style string lights (Example #2 below) over the street that create a ceiling along the corridor, and a unique nighttime experience that would be visible from either end of the street.

Example #1
Example #2

The intersections of 4th through 7th Streets should be enhanced with decorative paving to suggest the pedestrian crossings are of primary importance, helping to slow traffic at these key points.

Master Plan: 4th Street - 6th Street (HWY 77)

The blocks between 3rd through 4th and 7th through 8th Streets are envisioned as softer green blocks with less paving behind the back of the curb. Instead, turf-grass easily provides a softer green character. Pedestrian amenities should also be included along these stretches but can be provided less frequently.

Master Plan: 2nd Street - 4th Street
Master Plan: 6th Street (HWY 77) - 8th Street

Finally, there is the opportunity for stormwater gardens in many of the planting areas along the corridor that would capture surface runoff from the street and further contribute to the unique character of the streetscape.

Master Plan Conceptual Imagery and Inspiration


  1. What is a master plan?
    1. A master plan is a vision for future implementation. It provides a conceptual layout to guide future growth and development. Master plnaning is about people and their connection to the buildings, social settings, and surrounding environment. A master plan will identify future design opportunities, streetscape enhancements, and the aspirational vision as a planning tool.
  2. Why now?
    1. The discussion about what Court Street and Downtown Beatrice can and should look like have been a common point of community conversation for many years. The topic of downtown revitalization continues to be a leading goal of residents and leaders alike. The current downtown design is focused on vehicles and less on promoting a strong sense of place and connecting people to economic and residential opportunities. As Beatrice looks to strengthen its downtown, solutions and improvements are being considered, and community input is needed to determine what that future will look like.
  3. What has been done to date? This project, while in full-swing now, has actually been in the works for over ten years. Here's a brief timeline of the last 10+ years to date:
    1. 2011 - Original Beatrice Master Plan; redesign and revitalization of 5th Street from Court Street to Ella Street
    2. 2012 - Highway 136 Relocation Feasibility Study
    3. 2015 - Redesign and revitalization of 2nd Street from Court Street to Grant Street
    4. 2016 - Downtown Revitalization Plan Study
    5. 2017 - Downtown Revitalization Grant - Facade Improvements
    6. 2021 - New Fire Station
    7. 2022 - Downtown Revitalization Grant - Facade Improvements
    8. 2023 - Stakeholder engagement sessions (2); Preliminary Master Plan development; Final Master Plan development; approval of final Master Plan
  4. What are the goals of the master plan? There are three goals identified in the master plan: to understand aspirations of the community and downtown stakeholders; to coordinate community aspirations with the needs and desires of the community stakeholders; and to guide the long-term vision for Court Street.
  5. What are the objectives of the master plan? The five objectives of the master plan are as follows:
    1. Help retain and attract businesses to the corridor
      1. Improving the quality of downtown creates an environment for businesses to stay downtown, while attracting new private investment. Recommendations should include improved access to available parking and enhancing the overall experience of visiting Beatrice.
    2. Project a welcoming image to visitors
      1. City streets compose the largest segment of public property in a community. They also tell visitors a great deal about that community. The streetscape in downtown Beatrice is simple, but it's overshadowed by the standard highway amenities, including signage, galvanized lighting, and a lack of street furniture and landscaping. Improvements to this environment should create a unique pedestrian space that is not only pleasant for the pedestrian, but also for the passing motorist, encouraging them to stop and explore the district. An improved streetscape for downtown Beatrice should include, at a minimum, landscaping (including trees) wayfinding, benches, and trash receptacles.
    3. Support an active downtown
      1. Downtown Beatrice should be the center for entertainment and civic life. It's important that private investments are supported by the city policy and capital improvements (streetscape and gathering spaces). These new private and civic investments can create new economic opportunities that improve the business mix and support expanded hours of operations.
    4. Create a comfortable pedestrian environment
      1. Gateways would welcome visitors to the district and include landscaping, decorative lighting, and some form of signage, either along or over the street that welcomes visitors to the district. Common space is central to the life of traditional town centers. Beatrice's Charles Park is a wonderful, yet underused public amenity. Downtown lacks significant green space for people to gather and hold events. Small public spaces, such as pedestrian nodes, plazas, and passageways can enhance the downtown experience and stimulate surrounding redevelopment efforts.
    5. Improve downtown parking
      1. Parking is an issue in nearly every town center across the nation and, in many cases, the availability of parking can either make or break a district. Along Court Street, parking is tight due to lane requirements for Highway 136. Increasing on-street parking, greening existing parking lots, adding wayfinding, and crafting better routes from car-door to store-door would improve the district's parking environment.