Looking for ideas to improve U.S. 40.
A lot of people have an eye on the mostly undeveloped intersection of U.S. 40 and Adams Dairy Parkway in Blue Springs.
At the northeast corner, city officials want to see the Missouri Innovation Park take off and develop with high-end jobs in life sciences and energy.
Jackson County officials are pushing for a commuter rail system, one line of which would go on the train tracks just to the south of that corner – maybe with a stop for the Innovation Park one day. Officials say commuter rail stops become major economic development magnets.
Transit officials also are looking at bus service – something like the MAX buses in Kansas City and Johnson County – along U.S. 40.
All of those, a consultant said Thursday, could dramatically help develop that corner into a destination spot, a place where people could both live and work. That might be something like the Crossroads district or River Market in Kansas City, one of “the cool places, the great places,” said Britt Palmberg, a consultant for the Mid-America Regional Council.
MARC is looking at revitalizing U.S. 40 and five similar corridors in the metro area, and before a light crowd at William Bryant Elementary School, Palmberg discussed “looking at creating places that are better connected to the surrounding communities.”
Palmberg walked through a presentation that touched on shifting demographics – empty-nest boomers looking for smaller homes close to shopping, dining and parks and young adult looking for smaller, maybe older homes their their parents once did – and the fact that higher population densities than Kansas City suburbs typically have are needed for the kind of development that would turn 40 and Adams Dairy Parkway into a sort of second downtown.
“In general, retail demand is driven by population and income,” he said.
Then he asked people to vote. Of the eight residents responding to a series of questions, most favored the suggestion of making 40 more of parkway – perhaps a lot like Adams Dairy Parkway with trees as well as walking and biking trails.
“It’s also more marketable to real-estate tenants and people who want to live nearby,” Palmberg said.
Residents also signaled support for the express bus idea, bigger and more informative signs to help people get around, and even taller buildings if that would raise population density levels.
Plans for the Innovation Park, Palmberg suggested, could include such things as walking trails and other green space to fit into the area.
“More and more office parks around the country are thinking about integrating with the land uses around them,” he said.
He also cautioned that any changes take a long time.
“It means your mayors and city council have to stay with this for many, many years,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - This was MARC’s third meeting this week on U.S. 40, following open houses in Independence and Kansas City. Officials stress that they are still looking for public comments – go to www.creatingsustainableplaces.com – and will take those for the rest of the year. Early in 2013, there will be another round of meetings with some suggestions laid on the table.
Scott Allen, Blue Springs community development director, said in early 2013 the city will begin revising its comprehensive land-use plan and efforts such as this one can help feed that process.