The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about undesirable changes to society. Yet at the same time, it represents an opportunity, if not the responsibility, for urban scholars and practitioners to rethink the way cities are planned. The purpose of this research is to (1) critically analyse a public participation process affected by the pandemic; (2) highlight the possibilities for improvement of digital and analogue participation in post-pandemic times; and (3) contextualise the results to our understanding of the discourse around the “new normal”. Multiple sources of data and research methods (i.e. document analysis, an online survey, and in-depth interviews) were used to study an urban redevelopment project in Dortmund called, Smart Rhino, whose planned public participation was hit by the pandemic. The findings are ambiguous. The pandemic, along with other factors, affected the participation and planning process making the existing concept inappropriate. The results for potential adaptation suggest important lessons for meaningful interrelation of digital and analogue participatory formats. Yet, adaptation potentials have not been tapped. We conclude with a contextualisation of the ambiguity of these findings, in the light of the discussion around a new normal, where we see prevailing challenges for participation and indications for normalised neoliberal logics in participation and planning in the case of Smart Rhino.