Planning and Design Consultants for Girard Borough Downtown Master Plan &

Historic District National Register Nomination Girard, Pennsylvania

Proposals Due August 31, 2020





Girard Borough is seeking a qualified consultant or consultant team to (Phase I) develop a Downtown Girard Master Plan and (Phase II) complete a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the proposed Girard Historic District. The Downtown Girard Master Plan will have three specific elements: (A) a market analysis to include examination of business retention, expansion, and recruitment opportunities for downtown Girard, as well as the overall strength of the downtown in terms of its assets, history, and quirkiness, (B) a branding and marketing plan, and (C) user-friendly design guidelines addressing building rehabilitation and maintenance, signage, lighting, and outdoor seating.

The economic vitality of Girard Borough is dependent on a vibrant and well-maintained downtown. The objective of this effort is to develop a plan through extensive public input that focuses on a 0.4-mile portion of the main street and sets the stage for revitalization of the Borough’s central business district.

The borough has allocated a total of $50,000 for the completion of Phases I and II.



The Borough of Girard is located along Pennsylvania’s historic US Route 20. It was created in 1846 and owes its growth and prosperity to three factors: the Erie Extension Canal of the Pennsylvania Canal (1844-1871), famous circus man and philanthropist Dan Rice, and, at the end of the century, the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad.

Much of Girard’s downtown is located within the National Register eligible Girard Historic District, which is a linear district along Main Street and features 63 contributing resources, 31 of which serve a commercial function. Building dates span 1850 to 1949. The proposed district is significant in local commerce and architecture, as well as in the area of entertainment and recreation. Though associated with agriculture and the lake shore fruit-growing industry of Erie County, the real significance of the proposed Girard Historic District lies in the Borough’s economic leaders of the mid to late nineteenth century. The Borough’s leaders helped shape the economic health and direction of other rural communities in the county struggling to


transition from their agricultural economies to industrial ones. Greek Revival and Italianate are the most common architectural styles found within the district.

National Register listing was pursued in 1988 but was abandoned in the early 1990s due to a lack of resources to continue the process.

Girard Borough does not have a designated Main Street program; however, the proposed planning effort will utilize the Main Street Approach and focus on economic development and vitality, design, and promotion. This approach will be employed because it is geared to support the revitalization of an older, historic commercial district and aims to build a thriving local economy. The resulting downtown master plan will purposefully identify specific goals and objectives and provide realistic implementation strategies that will achieve a very basic and fundamental vision for downtown Girard, rooted in the desire to attract people and investment.

From a historic preservation standpoint, the goals of the project will be to preserve the architectural heritage of downtown Girard, encourage private investment that is consistent with the historic integrity of the downtown and the historic district, and create a compelling image to increase commerce and profits, attract new businesses, retain existing businesses, attract all age groups, and encourage long-term commitments to the community.

The project will build on the momentum generated by the Borough’s recent activity. In 2018, the Borough created the Downtown Girard Committee and announced the establishment of the façade improvement grant program. Over two years, approximately $68,000 has been awarded to property and business owners in the downtown for façade improvements. The committee has also assisted in the installation of the town’s first mural and secured more than $50,000 to re-grant as “beautification grants” to residential property owners located on Girard’s Main Street and adjacent to the commercial downtown.

This activity, as well as the fact that Girard Borough’s most current planning document is more than 30 years old, has precipitated Girard Borough and the Downtown Girard Committee to initiate planning.


Phase I: Downtown Girard Master Plan


The Downtown Girard Master Plan will have three specific elements: (A) a market analysis to include examination of business or development retention, expansion, and recruitment opportunities for downtown Girard, as well as the overall strength of the downtown in terms of its assets, history, and quirkiness, (B) a branding and marketing plan, and (C) user-friendly design guidelines addressing building rehabilitation and maintenance, signage, lighting, and outdoor seating.

A.  Market Analysis


The market analysis for the Downtown Girard will require the following tasks by the consultant(s).


  • Evaluate the current economic conditions of Downtown Girard. The analysis will consider the economic and demographic features of the local area and the regional market. The assessment will, at a minimum, evaluate four market sectors – residential, retail, public facilities, and commercial – to determine if Downtown Girard is a feasible location for these
  • Analyze the existing physical features in Downtown Girard. This analysis must consider, at a minimum, the current regulatory requirements such as land use and zoning, the historic building stock, and
  • Identify specific development types well-suited for the Downtown Girard market
  • Evaluate a broad range of redevelopment strategies. The strategies should capitalize on the results of the market analysis and be sensitive to the historic integrity of the community. The selected redevelopment strategies should be feasible and consider cost
  • Develop a detailed implementation plan for the selected redevelopment strategies. The implementation plan must, at a minimum, prioritize the strategies within each goal and identify responsible parties for accomplishing the recommended
  • Assist in the establishment of the legal basis for implementation including applicable federal, state and local

B.  Branding and Marketing Plan


The branding and marketing action plan for the Downtown Girard will require the following tasks by the consultant(s).

  • Research and/or assess the community’s existing marketing collateral and
  • Work in partnership with the Downtown Girard Committee to develop and implement a community engagement strategy (stakeholder interviews, focus groups, public meetings, online surveys, etc.) for the development of the branding and marketing
  • Develop a comprehensive marketing plan for Downtown Girard which includes recommendations and implementation strategies for a branding strategy and marketing plan. At a minimum the plan should include creative branding messages intended for various audiences, including developers, businesses, residents, and visitors, and address the following topics: public relations; signage, including wayfinding signage to and within downtown; existing and potential events and activities in the downtown; promotional collateral; and communication tools, such as the borough website and social
  • Include a prioritization and/or phasing action plan spanning five years with recommendations for which local entity should take the


  • Create an accountability plan for implementation and measuring success of the branding and marketing process.

C.  Design Guidelines


The consultant(s) will be required to identify and articulate design guidelines.


  • The design guidelines – the use of which will be voluntary but incentivized by the Borough and Downtown Girard Committee – must be user-friendly and give advice about how to treat character-defining features in Girard’s downtown so that its overall “look and feel” remains an asset to the community. The design guidelines are to address topics such as building rehabilitation and maintenance, signage, lighting, and outdoor

Phase I Deliverables:


The consultant shall submit the following products to Girard Borough in accordance with the approved project schedule:

  • Brief status/progress reports emailed to Girard Borough
  • Draft of each component of the master plan (A. market analysis, B. branding and marketing plan, and C. design guidelines) for review and comment.
  • An executive summary of the master plan suitable for publication that details the benefits of plan implementation, including cultural, economic, and other community
  • A complete, borough approved, Girard Master Plan with all three components. The consultant will be responsible for designing and formatting the document, as well as providing the plan in printable, electronic, and web-based formats. One (1) complete copy of the final work effort (narrative, maps and supporting data) shall be provided on USB
  • An editable version of the final plan will also be provided. The narrative will be submitted in Microsoft Word format. Any map portions of the document will be provided as an ArcGIS Geo-shape file with all corresponding data



Phase II: National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Girard Historic District


The qualified consulting firm will prepare and complete one (1) National Register of Historic Places Registration form and other materials necessary for the nomination of the Girard Historic District, including an updated PA SHPO Historic Resource Survey Form. Final criteria


and areas of significance will be determined in consultation with the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office.

The National Register registration form will be prepared in accordance with instructions contained in National Register Bulletin: How to Complete the National Register Registration Forms (#16A) from the National Park Service.

The National Register nomination shall include but not be limited to:


  • Research and development of the narrative sections (description and significance) as specified in National Register Bulletin 16A, including a definitive, clear historical context establishing how Girard conveys historical
  • Establishment of defensible National Register Historic District boundaries per NPS Bulletins 15.
  • An inventory of contributing and non-contributing properties, including any streetscape, open space or recreational spaces within the nominated Girard Historic District boundaries.
  • Original USGS map with UTM coordinates


  • A map, other than USGS, of the nominated Girard Historic District clearly indicating contributing and non-contributing properties and street
  • A photo map keyed to a district map


  • Photographs taken and labeled in accordance with National Register and SHPO standards in sufficient quantity to adequately document the historic district and its significant contributing
  • Digital images of the historic district in sufficient quantity to adequately document the historic district and its significant contributing properties saved and labeled in accordance with current NPS
  • A


The contract product is one complete nomination form, accepted by Girard Borough and the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission (PHMC) for presentation to the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board, including all photographs, maps, and other supplementary information. The contractor shall make any revisions suggested by PHMC staff and the Historic Preservation Board necessary for submittal to the National Park Service for listing in the National Register. Should the National Park Service require further revision, one round of revisions is within the scope of this contract.

A survey of the area in which the proposed historic district is located was completed in the past. The survey information will be available to the consultant selected to complete the


nomination. When necessary, updates to this information shall be completed by the consultant to provide accurate data to complete the nomination form. Any data collection shall be done in coordination with the Erie County Department of Planning GIS staff and must comply with PASHPO systems requirements. The Consultant will discuss proposed district boundaries and other matters with Girard Borough and SHPO staff at a “kick-off” meeting at the beginning of the project.

The consultant shall make up to two presentations about the proposed district at public meetings. The consultant shall present the nomination at the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board meeting at which the proposed district is considered.

The consultant will also be expected to:


  • Participate in conference calls and/or regular update meetings with Girard Borough to coordinate on the progress of the
  • Complete progress reports monthly for submittal to Girard


  • Provide two hard copies and one electronic copy of the updated PA SHPO Historic Resource Survey
  • Provide two hard copies and one electronic copy of the draft National Register registration
  • Provide two hard copies and one electronic copy of a draft report of findings and recommendations.
  • Provide two hard copies, one editable electronic copy, and a PDF copy of a final National Register registration form. In addition, photographs, maps, and an electronic database for use in Erie County’s GIS system and the State Historic Preservation Office’s Cultural Resource Geographic Information System (CRGIS) must be




Phase I, development of the Girard Master Plan, must conclude no later than May 31, 2021. Completion of Phase II, which is the Girard Historic District National Register nomination, must be done by July 1, 2022.



The proposal, encompassing items 1-4 below, shall not exceed 15 double-sided pages (30 total pages) including cover letter, project lists and contacts. All responses to the RFP shall include the following information:

  1. Cover Letter – A letter of interest for the project.


  1. Statement of Qualifications and Staffing – Provide a qualifications profile of the lead consultant and sub-consultants, including indication of the lead consultant, the proposed role of each consultant on the team. Also provide detailed information on each consultant, including the name of the firm, year established, and contact
  2. Summaries of relevant projects – Describe relevant experience on similar projects for each firm and list the work experience of the individuals expected to be involved in the project. Include a minimum of three (3) professional references for whom a similar project has been completed within the last ten (10)
  3. Proposed work plan – Proposals should include a work plan, schedule, and deliverables including a detailed description of the proposed public input process. The borough has not proscribed a public outreach process as we have found that each firm has a different approach. Public input is vital; describe how you will generate that
  4. Cost Proposal for Phase I and Phase II – Cost proposal should break out costs associated with Phase I and Phase II and include hourly wages and proposed allotted time for each professional assigned to the

All information submitted becomes property of Girard Borough upon submission. The borough reserves the right to issue supplemental information or guidelines relating to the RFP, as well as make modifications to the RFP or withdraw the RFP.

Respondents shall submit one (1) digital copy (PDF) by Monday, August 31, 2020 4:00 pm to: Rob Stubenbort, Borough Manager

34 Main Street West, Girard, PA 16417

(814) 774-9683 x203

Please expect a confirmation email upon receipt of the qualifications.


If you have any questions about this project or the RFP, please address them in writing via email to