Thursday, June 14, 2012

Developing 150 Highway

Grandview officials have taken the next step in determining the future of what Mayor Steve Dennis has called the "final frontier" of new development in Grandview. 

The M-150 Sustainable Development Corridor Plan - a document that will guide the character and type of development along the highway - has been in the works for about a year. Now, consultants have completed the study and presented it to officials - and those officials like what they see. 

Essentially, the plan calls for development along "nodes" of intersections, incorporating nature and waterways, as well as encouraging pedestrian use. 

"This is Grandview's southern gateway, and we have a golden opportunity here to shape it in such a way that it is sustainable for the future and sends a strong message about Grandview's character," he said. 

The Grandview Board of Aldermen on June 5 reviewed the final draft of the plan, prepared by Parsons Brinckerhoff, an urban design consulting firm. The board gave city staff the go-ahead to move forward on implementing the plan. 

The 150 Highway corridor through southern Grandview is a two-mile, largely undeveloped corridor that represents the final opportunity for large-scale development in the city," said consultant Tom Hester. "The city recognizes that development along the corridor will have major impacts on the city's character, economic vitality, transportation and open space networks. The plan is intended to create a framework to enable the city, in partnership with property owners, developers, and the community at large, to realize the enormous potential of this corridor." 

Chris Chiodini, director of community development, noted that the Missouri Department of Transporation recently completed improvements that widened the highway to four lanes with signal-controlled intersections and an improved interchange with 71 Highway (future I-49). But so far, Grandview doesn't have the infrastructure in the area to take advantage of those improvements. 

After discussions with elected and appointed officials, developers and property owners in the area, Hester said, the general consensus was that rather than more big-box retail or industrial space, the preferred pattern for the corridor should be mixed-use projects that feature retail, business, and residential uses, as well as parks and green space. 

The specific study area is a two-mile stretch extending east from the 71/150 interchange to the city limits at Kelley Rd., and about one-half mile north and south of 150 Highway. That area is cut in half by Byars Rd., which divides the corridor into "east" and "west" project areas. The western half already contains commercial development around the White Avenue intersection, the Grand Summit apartment complex, and the Belvidere and River Oaks neighborhoods. The east half, on the other hand, is mostly undeveloped, with the exception of the Sunrise Farms residential project. 

Two factors that play into the plan include "node" development to foster both vehicle and pedestrian transportation, and the integration of nature into future developments. 

Node development clusters destinations at intersections, which lead "back" away from the highway into residential areas. 

"For the corridor to be successful, it needs to have many destinations," Hester said. "It needs to have places where people want to be and include a mix of community and regional activities and uses. Nodal development, which concentrates development at key locations, will provide focus and create destinations in the corridor." 

The overall pattern will be somewhat compact, Hester said, to create walkability and higher population density. That allows better utilization of infrastructure, and so that homes and apartments would be within easy walking distance to the locations along the nodes. 

"This pattern of development can help to lower infrastucture costs by reducing roadway and utility lengths," Hester said. "It can also help preserve valuable open spaces, limit sprawl and increase neighborhood cohesiveness and public health through encouraging walking, bicycling, and social interaction. 

The plan is also "green," in that it calls for preserving as much open, natural space as possible. Rain gardens, permeable pavements, and integration of natural water features that run through the area are all part of the plan. Not only does this simply look better and create a more pleasant environment, but such development helps to responsibly manage stormwater - part of the area lies in a floodplain. It also provides habitat for animals who are comfortable in the urban scene. 

Chiodini said the plan is not "set in stone," and is meant to be a guiding document, not a limiting one. Developers who are interested in the area now have a strong indication of what the city expects. 

Though the board gave the plan a thumbs up, it has yet to formally vote to approve it.

1 comment:

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