Updated Port Campus Square plan approved

An updated master plan for Port Campus Square on Coon Rapids Boulevard has been approved by the Coon Rapids City Council after being recommended for approval by the Coon Rapids Planning Commission at its April meeting.

Port Campus Square generally encompasses an area north and south of the boulevard from Crooked Lake to Mississippi boulevards, including Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

The recommended plan adoption comes after a lengthy planning process, which involved not only the commission, but also a steering committee comprising two members of the commission, two property owners in Port Campus Square, a neighborhood resident and representatives from the college.

In May 2012, a public open house where three development and redevelopment concepts were presented for comment drew some 100 people.

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

The city used a federal grant to hire a consultant, Stantec, to prepare the updated Port Campus Square master plan.

According to Matt Brown, community development specialist, the new master plan will replace a more conceptual plan adopted in 2010 when the Coon Rapids Ice Center was built in the port.

The master plan identifies future land uses and relationships, traffic circulation, pedestrian systems, parking plan locations and examples of building types, Brown wrote in a memo to the commission.

“Port Campus Square is especially significant since the city owns several acres of land near the Coon Rapids Ice Center and intends to sell much of it for future development,” he wrote.

“The Family Center Mall, which sits on about 40 acres of land, is also a key development opportunity should the current owner decide to sell the property.”

In addition, Brown wrote that Anoka-Ramsey’s long-term plans are another important consideration for the future of Port Campus Square.

The key recommendations of the plan, as outlined by Brown, are:

• Realign the intersection of 111th Avenue and Coon Rapids Boulevard to the east of the current intersection and establishment of 111th as a high-amenity corridor.

• Construct Boulevard Park in front of the Coon Rapids Ice Center toward Coon Rapids Boulevard.

• Reserve land for a future community center west of the ice arena with the option of structured parking.

• Market the city-owned site southeast of the ice arena for senior housing development after Boulevard Park has been constructed.

• Plan for mixed-use development on the city-owned parcel on the south side of Coon Rapids Boulevard created by realigning the 111th Avenue intersection.

• When the Family Center Mall redevelops, plan for commercial or mixed-use development along Coon Rapids Boulevard and moderate to high-density residential development on the rest of the site.

• Reconstruct Mississippi Boulevard south of Coon Rapids Boulevard to include a roundabout to improve traffic circulation at the entrance to Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

• Improve connections to the Mississippi River by establishing a trail connection and “green corridor” along the south side of the community center and Anoka-Ramsey campus.

• Work with Anoka-Ramsey in the long term to construct parking structures in lieu of surface parking lots on the west side of Mississippi Boulevard and residential development on the east side of Mississippi Boulevard.

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

Councilmembers praised the Planning Commission for all its work on the master plan update.

“It has been a huge undertaking,” said Councilmember Paul Johnson.

According to Councilmember Jerry Koch, the process had also included residents, business owners and representatives of the college.

“I want to acknowledge all the community involvement,” Koch said. “It has been very impressive.”

Mayor Tim Howe would like to schedule some council work sessions to look at certain aspects of the Port Campus Square master plan in depth much like the council did with the updated parks and trails master plan, he said.

  • Bumpy Trails

    How about repaving the entire asphalt bike path along Coon Rapids Blvd? It’s been patched a few times, but most of the pavement dates from the early 1980’s.