Audubon neighborhood considers future, identity in master plan

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Architects for the Aubudon Neighborhood Association unveiled a rough draft Monday of a neighborhood master plan, which aims to improve housing stock, increase density in selected areas, and hopefully lend a boost to its commercial nodes.

Click here to download the presentation of the master plan. (PDF)

The neighborhood will vote on whether to approve the vision at next month’s community meeting (7 p.m., Feb. 4, at the Salvation Army Community Center, 2727 Central Ave. NE). After that, it would be forwarded to the city for possible inclusion in an updated city master plan.

“I’ve never seen a neighborhood with more energy,” Council Member Paul Ostrow told residents after Monday’s discussion of the rough draft. “Not every neighborhood has the initiative to do something like this.”

The Audubon neighborhood includes the area between Lowry Avenue and St. Anthony Parkway, and Central Avenue to Stinson Parkway. Its landmarks include the abandoned Hollywood Theater and the business hub at Johnson Street and 29th Avenue.

As the plan was being formed, residents told DJR Architects that they see room for improvement with the housing between Central Avenue and Fillmore Street. They also expressed a desire to attract a movie theater, more sit-down restaurants, a bicycle shop, and many other amenities.

The master plan is a 30 year road map of how the neighborhood might reach those goals. The idea is that city officials and developers would refer to the document when making future decisions about the neighborhood.

Among the biggest changes laid out in the master plan:

-Increasing housing density along Central Avenue and parts of Johnson Street. Dean Dovolis, principal with DJR Architecture, said some density is necessary to support small businesses in the neighborhood. Mixed-use buildings, ones that have residential space above shops or offices, would be a priority. Duplexes and triplexes would be discouraged.

-Improving public spaces, including Audubon Park. The plan calls for adding signs to direct people to and around Audubon Park, where the neighborhood wants to improve year round services and activity. Another goal to encourage private landowners and developers to create green spaces that are accessible to the public.

-Improving the experience for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users. The plan asks for more bike lanes and bike racks. It asks new developments to provide transit amenities like bus benches or shelters, and it supports the possible development of a streetcar line on Central Avenue. It also discourages driveways and parking lots from taking up space in front of homes or businesses.

The master plan charts the neighborhood on course for adding roughly 2,000 to 3,000 residents, Dovolis estimated. That would bring it back to about its peak from five decades ago, making the Audubon Park of the 2040s look and feel maybe a bit more like the Audubon Park of 1950s.

Community Conversation: Audubon residents, what do you want your neighborhood to look like in another 30 years? What are your opinions of the master plan ideas? Use the comment form below to share your opinion!

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