City and university collaboration to bring improvements to downtown Auburn

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – The City of Auburn and Auburn University are working together to implement elements of the city’s upcoming Downtown Master Plan and several other downtown-related projects, as part of the one-year, grant-assisted Urban Sustainability Accelerator program of Portland State University.

Throughout the year, city and university officials will coordinate with experts affiliated with the program on downtown alleyway improvements, the intersection of Samford Avenue and College Street, parking improvements, pedestrian safety enhancements along South College Street downtown, rain gardens and a feasibility study of the daylighting of local streams. Other projects may emerge during the course of the year.

The Urban Sustainability Accelerator initiative provides personalized consulting services to help cities implement sustainability projects. In addition, a team of city and university employees will collaborate with other cities with similar projects and environments so that each of the cohort cities can learn from one another’s experiences.

“Catalysts and network weavers can really make a difference when it comes to acting on and implementing exciting plans,” said Mike Kensler, director of the Office of Sustainability at Auburn University. “The Urban Sustainability Accelerator program is serving that role for the City of Auburn/Auburn University partnership: providing expertise and innovative ideas and nurturing the cross-sector partnership between the city, the university, the business community and citizens. We very much appreciate being selected to participate in this program, and over the next few years the people of Auburn will see results in delightful improvements to downtown.”

The project continues a long history of collaboration between the City of Auburn and Auburn University. In recent years the collaboration has yielded projects of value to both the university and the city, including the series of mid-block crossings on Magnolia Avenue, the Auburn University Research Park, the Yarbrough Tennis Center and annual downtown events.

“The partnership between Auburn University and the City of Auburn has always been strong, and I’m excited for this chance for us to work together to improve downtown Auburn as the gateway to both downtown Auburn and the Auburn University campus,” said Auburn Mayor Bill Ham Jr.

The Urban Sustainability Accelerator program is offered in the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. Program funding includes support from the Summit Foundation and the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University.

Robert Liberty, director of the Urban Sustainability Accelerator program, said, “We are excited to be partners with a city and university team that have a good working relationship and a shared vision for a more economically and environmentally vibrant downtown.”

Media Contacts:
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (,
David D. Dorton, Office of the City Manager, (334)-501-7266 (