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Tale of Two Meetings: Part Two: ReTRAC Master Plan

Major highlights of the recommendations contained in the latest draft (final document due in June) of the Freedman, Tung and Bottomley Trench Corridor study - starting from the west end of the trench and moving to the east.  Also noted are other proposals and approved projects near the trench corridor that have either been publicly discussed and/or approved - as well as some of my own observations.

Highlights

1) Build a long and distinctive pedestrian bridge that begins in Idlewild Park (recreation area) crosses the river to the 2nd street/Dickerson road area (neglected residential/industrial with great river access and great residential redevelopment potential), and then crosses the train tracks to 4th street at the site of a proposed new mid-rise office park or big box retail replacing mixed industrial.

2) Proposals for a new Public Safety Center, Fire House and Community Center indicated here on the three blue patches Public Safety goes between Pedestrian Bridge and Keystone. Proposed new fire station on the parcel across Keystone. Proposed Community Center (recreation facility) east of fire station across Vine St. All these proposed public facilities will be built on former RR parcels deeded to the city as a result of the trench contract.

3) Redevelop the area between 2nd Street and the trench from the proposed Community Center on the west extending east to Arlington into trendy mid-rise (up to 4 story) condos or townhomes. Establish a greenbelt buffer along the southern edge of the trench connecting this new residential area to the proposed trench plazas which will ultimately extend from West St to Virginia. Also, add attractive landscaping along Bell and Stevenson Streets connecting the new residential areas south to the river.

4) After RTC relocates its bus station to a new facility east of the bowling stadium, focus on renovating the block which currently contains the bus station - doesn't indicate what project is planned but one of the seven recently announced "priority projects" is a new parking garage with ground level retail to be built "west of Virginia" - so I suppose that block might be a possible site.

5) Add trendy retail to the southern end of the bowling stadium (currently unfinished) which will be connected to the old train station building via a pedestrian bridge across the trench (contracted for construction this spring). This is just a part - along with item 6 below - of assembling a new "Pedestrian Oriented Entertainment Spine" extending trendy retail all the way from the west st (where the trench plazas are proposed) to the Freight House retail below.

6) As part of the "Entertainment Spine", redevelop the blocks containing the Men's Club and Freight House (both protected historic buildings) - primarily into new retail or mixed uses - see Freight House proposal. If new public safety and fire facilities are built further west by Keystone (as proposed), the existing police and fire stations near the river along 2nd street may become available for either different uses or perhaps cleared for redevelopment. It is also rumored that one of the redevelopment "priority plans" - to transform "1 1/2 to 2 downtown blocks into new new downtown retail" - might very well be directed at these two (mostly vacant) blocks. Also, a second whitewater kayak facility is proposed to begin at the new Grants Landing river access point (to be constructed by the developer) and go downstream from there under the Kuenzli and 2nd Street bridges.

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