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New vision for Old West Main

A plan is in the works that aims to make the Old West Main area more cohesive, welcoming and functional, and the public can learn more about it and give feedback Wednesday July 23.

The Old West Main Master Plan draft is available to review, and an open house is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. at Pier 55, with a presentation at 5:30 p.m.

“The idea is that this vision and plan would help guide both public and private decision-making over a long period of time,” city Planning Director Brian Peterson said, likely over the next 10 to 20 years.

The plan would help address issues such as parking and infrastructure needs, building use and pedestrian connectivity.

The five objectives are to attract people to the area through discernable gateways, help redevelop vacant and abandoned properties, support the existing business community and help underutilized properties develop, increase and improve parking, especially on the east end, and improve bicycle and pedestrian friendliness in the area.

The draft plan stems from ongoing conversations among the city’s Planning Commission, Peterson said, and also one of the goals of the city’s comprehensive plan, which is to come up with neighborhood plans like this — for example, the city’s downtown action plan.

“It’s a transitioning area,” Peterson said of Old West Main. “There’s a lot of change going on.”

A steering committee made up of residents, business and property owners, economic development agency and city representatives and other stakeholders started meeting in the spring, Peterson said, and worked with consulting firm Stantec to develop the plan and vision for the area.

Now the group is looking for public feedback. Comments will be incorporated into revisions and adjustments, Peterson said, and the plan would then go to the Planning Commission and eventually City Council for approval as an amendment to the city’s comprehensive plan.

That doesn’t mean the city will be buying up property or doing all this work, Peterson said. Instead, the plan is meant as a guide for developers and residents, current property owners and future work in the area.

“It’s really more about creating that vision and helping to guide decisions over a long period of time for both public and private entities,” Peterson said.

The city will have a role mainly in infrastructure, he said. The utilities there are older and will eventually need work, and doing that or other street construction could also allow for other improvements as well.

A copy of the draft master plan is available at For more information, contact Peterson at 651-385-3617 or

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

(651) 459-4629