Open house scheduled for Coon Rapids development

A public open house for an updated master plan of Port Campus Square on Coon Rapids Boulevard will take place in the skybox at the Coon Rapids Ice Center Tuesday, May 15, 4 to 6:30 p.m.The city has received a federal grant to work on updating the master plan for Campus Square, one of four ports created a decade ago by a Coon Rapids Boulevard framework plan to guide development and redevelopment along the boulevard.

Master plans were prepared and approved by the Coon Rapids City Council for all four ports – Wellness, Campus Square, Riverwalk and Evergreen – where development and redevelopment was expected to take place.

Port Campus Square generally encompasses an area north and south of the boulevard from Crooked Lake to Mississippi boulevards, but for the updated master plan Anoka-Ramsey Community College on Mississippi Boulevard has been added to the mix.

According to Matt Brown, community development specialist, the open house will be informal.

Three preliminary development scenarios will be presented and comments received at the open house will be considered in preparing the final concept, Brown said.

In addition, there will be a presentation on a market analysis for the Coon Rapids Boulevard corridor undertaken by Jay Demma of Stantec, the consultant retained by the city to prepare the Port Campus Square update.

According to the market analysis, there is negligible demand for additional owner-occupied housing along the corridor for the next several years.

But the analysis states that demand exists for rental housing, while market-rate rental housing is feasible in areas with public amenities.

The city is entering into a new planning process to analyze the best use of this land, Brown said.

“The public’s input is vital to this future planning,” he said.

“Whether you are a resident or business owner, or someone looking to re-locate to the city of Coon Rapids, the city invites input from all interested parties to ensure successful long-range planning.”

The entire Port Campus Square planning process will be completed by the end of the summer.

The updated plan will first go to the Coon Rapids Planning Commission for a recommendation to be made to the council for final approval.

The final plan will serve as a guide for future redevelopment in the area, including development of city-owned land near the ice center and land surrounding the college, according to Brown.

In 2010, the city received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct assessment work at various sites throughout the city through 2013.

Bonestroo Engineering, now Stantec, was hired to administer the funds and complete some of the work.

In addition to environmental assessment work, the grant will cover the costs of land use planning and market analysis in the Port Campus Square and Port Riverwalk redevelopment areas along Coon Rapids Boulevard.

The Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), which comprises the council, has approved taking $9,110 from its budget to supplement the federal grant money, a portion of which will be used for the master plan update.

The $9,110 in HRA funds will enable the project scope to be broadened beyond the potential “brownfield” areas covered by the grant to include such items as public connections to the Mississippi River and potential partnerships between the city and college regarding shared facilities and land swaps, according to Brown.

“The additional funds allow for expansion of the study area to include properties owned by and adjacent to Anoka-Ramsey Community College to the west of Port Campus Square,” Brown said.

“Staff believes that expanding the study area will result in a significantly better plan.”

While the Port Campus Square master plan was updated in 2010 with the construction of the ice center, additional planning and market analysis are needed to address disposal of publicly-owned land, anticipate future redevelopment of the Family Center Mall and integrate plans of the college into the broader area, Brown said.

A steering committee has been formed to provide input during the process.

The committee comprises two members of the Planning Commission, two property owners in Port Campus Square, a neighborhood resident and representatives from the college.

For more information go online to http://www.coonrapidsmn.gov/portcampussquare.htm.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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