Downtown Beatrice Redevelopment Priorities Discussed

BEATRICE – The Beatrice City Council will consider a grant-funded downtown redevelopment plan in early October, that will focus on building façade improvement and infrastructure upgrades.

Elected officials discussed the top priorities for downtown redevelopment last night, as seen by a special steering committee and a survey of public opinion led by Hanna: Keelan and Associates planning firm.

City Attorney Greg Butcher says the façade improvement program was considered the top priority… and as to what it might look like, officials have considered what other communities have done.

:28                  “would do”

Details of the improvement program would be determined following approval of a community development block grant of up to $350,000.   Main Street Beatrice Executive Director Michael Sothan says the façade program would not be intended to simply put a better face on a deteriorating building.

:18                  “up there”

This year, the downtown area was designated as a National Historic District, opening the way for federal and state tax credits for redevelopment.  Under the state grant program, business buildings would be eligible for the façade improvement program, even if not considered a historic structure.

The second priority, spending on downtown infrastructure such as sidewalk replacement, could serve as the city’s matching amount for the redevelopment grant.

:14                  “at anymore”

The third priority was determined to be downtown housing, possibly leveraged with tax increment financing.  Sothan says developing downtown living area can have added benefits.

:16                  “a good thing”

During the public meeting and survey process, Butcher says respondents indicated a need for a central events area.

:10                  “the public meetings”

One potential area identified is green space directly west of the municipal auditorium and athletic park.

A fourth priority determined through a consulting firm’s input process was urban design signage and marketing.

A proposed redevelopment plan that would be submitted for state grant approval will come before the Beatrice City Council at their October 3rd meeting.DT1