City officials want public input into concept plans to refresh the 2.3-mile stretch.
Troubled by erratic development and potentially hazardous spots for bicyclists and pedestrians along Brooklyn Boulevard, Brooklyn Center is looking at plans for wider sidewalks, bicycle lanes, green space and new commercial and residential development.
At a public meeting Tuesday, residents can see and discuss ideas meant to make the thoroughfare more attractive and safer for cars, mass transit, bikes and pedestrians. The work that's been done so far is a collaboration among the city, Hennepin County, Three Rivers Park District, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Metro Transit.
"This is a corridor that's had some long-standing issues," said City Engineer Steve Lillehaug. "This isn't a city street; it's actually a county roadway. The city doesn't have to do anything here because it's not our road. But we want this as an entry into our city."
Brooklyn Boulevard passes within a few blocks of the new development going on at Shingle Creek Crossing, the former Brookdale site. But Lillehaug said he expects Brooklyn Boulevard will be a regional access road connecting motorists traveling on Interstate 94 to Bass Lake Road and then to the new Wal-Mart and other development going in at the old Brookdale site.
Brooklyn Boulevard "needs to be a viable corridor to support redevelopment in this city," he said.
The study began last fall, with a $190,000 allocation from a citywide tax increment financing fund. The City Council reviewed the plans at last week's meeting, but this will be the first opportunity for the public to weigh in.
Some of the issues on the road include dangerous traffic conditions, blighted parcels, and a "hodgepodge" of residential and commercial properties.
A recent drive across the 2.3-mile stretch from I-94 across Hwy. 100 to the city border at 49th Avenue North, revealed narrow sidewalks, where a dad, pushing a stroller with two tots, walked within feet of oncoming traffic. Empty parcels, weedy parking lots and tired-looking houses with driveways that empty directly into traffic moving at 45 to 50 miles per hour are mixed in with trim, well-kept homes and thriving businesses.
The coalition working on plans for the roadway envisions a corridor that is closer to the "complete streets" model of development, with designated bicycle lanes and a wide walking or multiuse trail separated from traffic by a grassy boulevard.
Plans also include decorative lighting, boulevard and median plantings (including trees) and cutouts for bus stops.
The city already has bought several single-family houses on the boulevard, especially those with driveways on the corridor. It is buying others as opportunities arise, Lillehaug said. The houses likely will be razed, and the land could be converted to green space or possibly be developed for retail, with access off of the boulevard.
The study is a first step as the coalition prepares to seek funding. Though the hope is to finish the study stage by fall, Lillehaug said he doesn't know when a transformation may be complete. But he said it will change. "It will look different. It's not a matter of if. It's a matter of when."
Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409