Jordan continues drive to revive historic downtown

  • Article by: ERIN ADLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 31, 2014 - 6:25 PM

 

Vicki Anderson says she often gets tourist types asking for directions to sites in and around downtown Jordan — the waterfall, the meat market, the candy barn.

It happens at least 20 times a week, said the owner of The Vinery Floral, Home and Garden.

So the interest exists in a small south-metro community bristling with historic buildings. Now civic leaders are trying to turn those assets into something a lot more vibrant, a little less vacant, than what exists there today.

City planner Andrew Barbes said that now, people are visiting downtown Jordan “randomly” and “just because.” But he pictures a future when Jordan is a destination, he said.

The model for any metro-edge community seeking to be more of a tourist draw is often Stillwater. And that city came up twice earlier this week after members of an advisory group toured downtown.

City officials aren’t strangers to Jordan’s limits, similar to many small, older downtowns.

In an acknowledgment that updates were needed, the city used grant money to develop the 2013 Downtown Jordan Master Vision. Intended to guide planning decisions, the 90-page document is filled with recommendations, maps and bar graphs.

Each year, the city and the economic development authority devote $50,000 to making the vision a reality, officials said.

Jordan is encouraging revitalization in other ways, too. In 2010, the city instituted a matching grant program to help downtown businesses make aesthetic and structural improvements.

So far, $50,000 has been given out, so $100,000 worth of improvements have been made, said Joanne Foust, a planning consultant hired by the city.

But some worry that problems can’t be solved with small touches like pavers and planters.

Said Thom Boncher, City Council member: “It’s hard to say what the biggest problem is, but certainly one of them is lack of vitality,” a tough issue to tackle.

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