Port Campus Square plan update is unveiled

A fourth concept for the updated master plan of Port Campus Square on Coon Rapids Boulevard was unveiled at a public open house May 15.The open house drew some 100 people, both residents and businesses from the area around Port Campus Square, which generally encompasses an area north and south of the boulevard from Crooked Lake to Mississippi boulevards, including Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

Armed with a federal grant, the city retained Stantec to prepare a master plan update and that produced three concepts for development and redevelopment of the port.

Campus Square is one of four ports created a decade ago by a Coon Rapids Boulevard framework plan to guide development and redevelopment along the boulevard.

In addition, a steering committee comprising two members of the Coon Rapids Planning Commission, two property owners in Port Campus Square, a neighborhood resident and representatives from the college, was formed to provide input during the process.

That committee met prior to the informal public open house to discuss the three concepts outlined in the Stantec master plan and came up with the fourth concept that was the focus of the open house, according to Matt Brown, city community development specialist and lead staff person on the Port Campus Square update.

Concept scenarios for development and redevelopment of the area include:

• In the area of the current Coon Rapids Family Center, small scale “Main Street” commercial is envisioned fronting Coon Rapids Boulevard with mixed used buildings immediately to the north, then mixed use residential (apartments, condominiums, townhouses) north to 113th Avenue, with enhanced pedestrian access to Crooked Lake Boulevard.

• 111th Avenue would be moved from its present location east to a new signalized intersection with Coon Rapids Boulevard and extended north to 113th Avenue from the boulevard with a linear greenway on 111th featuring passive recreation and bike/pedestrian connections.

• Southeast of the Coon Rapids Ice Center, a senior living or cooperative housing development at Crooked Lake Boulevard and 109th Avenue.

• South of Coon Rapids Boulevard and west of realigned 111th Avenue, the concept proposes a city mixed use building, possibly including a county library branch, then south of realigned 111th and west of the ice center, would be a new city parking structure plus enhanced streetscaping on 111th.

• Existing 111th Avenue north and south of Coon Rapids Boulevard would become driveways and there would not longer be a signalized intersection.

• At 111th and Mississippi Boulevard, the concept shows new mixed-use residential where the former Cook Ice Arena was located plus Anoka-Ramsey Community College campus residential housing north of 111th and east of Mississippi Boulevard.

• Extension of Pheasant Ridge Drive, south of Coon Rapids Boulevard, east through Anoka-Ramsey property to Mississippi Boulevard resulting in a roundabout intersection and relocating the college ball fields.

• A campus gateway building, possibly public-private partnership, is shown at the southwest corner of the Coon Rapids/Mississippi boulevards intersection where the college’s professional trainer center is now located.

• New college parking structure where the current parking lot is located plus an enhanced pedestrian promenade along the river and a new college green area south of the parking lot.

• Where Pheasant Ridge Drive is extended east and northwest of the college buildings, the concept envisions a public conference center adjacent to the river to include a restaurant, hotel and riverfront plaza.

According to Brown, people attending the open house were generally positive about the concept presented and some of the ideas.

“They especially liked the improved connections to the river especially for bikes,” Brown said.

There was also a presentation on a market analysis for the Coon Rapids Boulevard corridor undertaken by Jay Demma of Stantec.

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 steering committee is scheduled to meet again June 19 to consider the comments received at the open house and written responses following the open house – people attending were given the opportunity to write down their comments.

Recommendations from the steering committee and the proposed concept plan will go the Planning Commission at its July meeting and then to the city council in August, according to Brown.

The final plan will serve as a guide for future redevelopment in the area, according to Brown.

“This is a long-range vision, but there be some opportunities for short-term building,” Brown said.

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 is covering the costs of land use planning and market analysis in both 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, took $9,110 from its budget to supplement the federal grant money, a portion of which is being used for the master plan update.

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 Coon Rapids Family Center and integrate plans of the college into the broader area, Brown said.

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

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]