Makeover Time for Brooklyn Boulevard

September 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

Well complete streets, property buying, and tax increment financing aren’t just limited to Crystal and New Hope. Brooklyn Center is not getting into the act. From the Sun Post;

Brooklyn Center has a proactive plan for a project on Brooklyn Boulevard from Interstate 94/694 to the city’s southern border at 49th Avenue, said Director of Public Works and City Engineer Steve Lillehaug. He stressed that the plan is proactive and not just a vision for what could happen to improve the roadway that is one of the main entrances to Brooklyn Center.

“We’ve got a plan and we’re immediately doing something,” Lillehaug said.

Is there a government bureaucrat anywhere that doesn’t call their ideas pro-active?

In 2014, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will be replacing the bridge deck where Brooklyn Boulevard goes over Highway 100, Lillehaug said. The state project provides the opportunity for the city to add aesthetic features such as lighting to the bridge and possibly enhance the trail on both sides, he said.

Lighting? Enhancing trails?

Aesthetic improvements will be consistent throughout the Brooklyn Boulevard corridor as future projects identified through a feasibility study are completed. The study, by SRF Consulting in Plymouth, identifies the corridor’s strengths and weaknesses and how to modify the road, nearby properties, sidewalks and trails to meet the needs of its users in the future.

Sounds like sustainable development doesn’t it?

It was presented for Brooklyn Center residents to review and provide their input on at an open house, the second this year, on Sept. 18. Lillehaug and SRF Consulting representatives at the open house also announced the implementation plan for how projects within the large corridor will be completed over time and as funding is available.

“It’s a real long corridor and we can’t do everything at once,” Lillehaug said. Overall, the improvements to the corridor are about making it more user friendly for drivers in vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Now that sounds like complete streets…..

City Councilmember Lin Myszkowski said at the open house that her interest in improvements to the corridor is focused on its features for people walking or biking in the area.

Why is that? Is there an overflow of walkers and bikers? Are people coming to council meetings demanding more bike paths? Or is this coming from central planners at the met council or in Hennepin County?

The proposal for the bike path is now off-street instead of part of the boulevard. Councilmember Kay Lasman said she was pleased to see that change to the proposal.

Myszkowski added that the redevelopment opportunities over time should be considered as a way to combine housing and retail in buildings.

Now we are talking about mixed-use development, yet another part of Agenda 21.

“I am hearing that people are really looking for housing for people age 55 and older,” Myszkowski said.

Really from who?

The city has started planning for redevelopment of single-family housing on Brooklyn Boulevard by purchasing foreclosed properties or homes for sale by their owner. Since 2009, the city’s Economic Development Authority has acquired 11 properties on Brooklyn Boulevard.

Oh and where did you get that money?

The city also acquired a foreclosed real estate office in a former single-family home and a 12-unit apartment building through a voluntary sale.

Whether the existing housing will be replaced with a similar use is not yet determined, but overall the city is planning to correct the incompatibility of housing, commercial and retail developments on Brooklyn Boulevard.

There are safety issues as well, such as driveway access to homes from the busy four-lane roadway.

“Just historically it’s ready for a face lift,” Lillehaug said.

The implementation plan announced last week also includes ideas to improve the road at the same time other redevelopment projects occur. “It’s really important to be shovel ready because you never know when the funding will become available,” Myszkowski said.

We know how well those shovel ready projects have been working!

Potential funding sources for projects include state dollars from MnDOT, grants, state aid, local funds from Brooklyn Center and special assessments.

So when the “free money” is out then put special assessments on the citizens!

Overall, the city has used $1.7 million in Tax Increment Financing —which is property tax income from redevelopment designated for other projects — to fund its efforts on Brooklyn Boulevard so far.

Yes you have borrowed and spent.

The investment includes removing the purchased structures and blighted buildings and improving access to businesses and residential neighborhoods.

With the study complete, Lillehaug said one of the next steps is to pursue funding and partners for the future projects.

There will not be another open house about the corridor plans, but residents are still welcome to submit their input to city staff, Lillehaug said.

As usual, there is an open house AFTER the project has been studied and agreed to by the council.


Entry filed under: Brooklyn Center, Transportation.

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