By Bryan Boggiano
Downtown development was on the minds of the city commission and the community redevelopment agency at their joint Monday, November 28 meeting.
So was moving the Coral Springs Charter School, located at 3205 N. University Drive and the adjacent Northwest Regional Library.
Moving the charter school was one high-priority capital improvement project that SEPI Engineering and Construction consultant Kaitlyn Forbes presented to the commission and the CRA.
She discussed various projects the city could take to revitalize the downtown area, located within the community redevelopment area (CRA).
This 136-acre CRA generally surrounds the intersection of Sample Road and University Drive. The city commission established the area in 2002 to revitalize the physical and economic environment. The community redevelopment area will expire in 2032.
The projects’ priorities come following a city survey and outreach events that gauged what residents wanted to see in the downtown CRA.
The survey results indicated residents and businesses favored an entertainment district, more nonresidential uses downtown, more owned residential properties versus rental properties, open spaces, and increased pedestrian and traffic safety.
Forbes said to continue developing the CRA; officials should consider relocating not only the charter school but possibly the library and that the city could look into reserving the area for a park, art space, or open space.
“It’s imperative [the charter school] is relocated entirely out of the downtown,” she said.
Vice Mayor Joshua Simmons initially expressed some concern, stating the library is an important early-voting site. However, City Manager Frank Babinec assured there would be a replacement early voting location.
CRA Vice Chair Andrew Kasten similarly stated working with the county, and other leaders would be an extensive process.
“That [process] seems like a very heavy lift,” he said.
Other high-priority projects include updating underground utilities, removing an alleyway near Sample Road, mitigating parking issues, installing pedestrian flashers and islands along Sample Road and University Drive, and enhancing crosswalk areas.
Medium and low-priority proposed projects include extending the ArtWalk across University Drive, constructing a second municipal garage, and culverting a canal west of city hall.
Forbes also discussed possibly using the Bank of America site to promote walkability at Cornerstone and converting the Stephen R. Booher Building, located at 3275 N.W. 99th Way, which houses the Broward Addiction Recovery Center, to a townhouse development.
Babinec stated Bank of America has not committed to selling their property. Since Broward County owns the rehab center, the city would have to talk to the county about selling this property. But, Babinec noted, the rehab center is highly successful.
Other comments from the commission and CRA largely focused on providing law enforcement downtown, parking, zoning, incorporating universal design for people with disabilities, providing more office space, and marketing.
Commissioner Nancy Metayer proposed delineating the downtown area with signage and trademarks that would be unique to the city and enticing to residents.
“That is something folks really want to see,” she said.
Forbes concluded that the projects’ priorities could change due to evolving market conditions and resident sentiments.
“It is not frozen in time that these are high priority,” she said.
- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan is pursuing his masters in geosciences at Florida International University. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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