The Portland Legacy project is a collaboration between the cities of Bloomington and Richfield who were selected to participate in the 2020 Congress for New Urbanism’s (CNU) Legacy Project. This initiative brings a nationally recognized design firm - TSW Architects and Planners out of Atlanta and Toole Design Group - to engage our communities to explore opportunities and actions both cities can take to revitalize this aging commercial area and enhance access and walkability.
Normally, the process is based on a four-day community design workshop with an emphasis on face-to-face community participation. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the Portland Legacy Project activities planned in 2020. This year, the TSW team conducted virtual stakeholder listening sessions, a virtual kick-off meeting and provided online engagement opportunities (see link below).
The Portland Legacy Project encompasses the area within a quarter to half mile of the I-494 and Portland Avenue interchange, with a focus on the area along Portland between 77th St. and American Boulevard. The project area straddles Interstate 494, which serves as a major gateway to both Bloomington and Richfield. See map below.
Revitalization: Both Bloomington and Richfield are focusing attention on revitalizing aging commercial areas to create attractive, vibrant places that better serve their neighborhoods and changing demographics. This area developed in the 1950s and 60s and many of the buildings are old with poor access and limited parking. While there is a significant amount of nearby housing, the area lacks safe, comfortable routes for pedestrians and bicyclists and is lacking in landscaping or other amenities. Key objectives are to make the area more attractive, create a sense of identity, and improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and access to nearby parks and businesses.
Coordinate with Major Projects: Two major transportation projects are planned that will affect the area:
- MnDOT I-494 Access Study – MnDOT is evaluating access along I-494 that will result in substantial upgrades to the interchange at Portland Avenue. This presents a unique opportunity to improve the streetscape, enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety, and create a major gateway entrance to Bloomington and Richfield.
- D-Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) - Two D-Line transit stops are planned in the area: one on American Boulevard just east of Portland Avenue and another at 77th Street in Richfield. The D-Line – which is expected to begin operating in 2022 - will extend along American Boulevard and Portland Avenue; traveling through the heart of the project area. There is an opportunity to improve pedestrian and bicycle access between the surrounding neighborhood and businesses to the planned transit stations in this area.
The Legacy Project culminated in the creation of a framework report that summarizes key opportunities and challenges in the study area and defines a set of strategies the two cities can use to guide decisions about redevelopment and public realm enhancements. The final report is conceptual in nature and is not the product of an extensive planning and iterative review process typical of our development district plans. This report provides a thorough assessment of existing conditions and key challenges to redevelopment. Because the project was a partnership between Richfield and Bloomington, some of the ideas presented are things one or the other city already does. In addition, some ideas presented reflect strategies that have been successful in communities across the country and will require further study to determine if feasible in Minnesota.
The full Portland Gateway Report is provided below. Select sections are placed in separate tabs below for easy access:
PDF of full Report available here:
Virtual kick-off meeting February 24th
The cities of Bloomington and Richfield held a virtual public meeting on the Portland Legacy Project on February 24th. A recording of the meeting is available for replay here: https://vimeo.com/516726954
Summaries of input received at the virtual kick-off meeting at through online platforms (interactive maps, surveys, etc.) are provided on the graphics below:
The consultant team and staff from the cities of Richfield and Bloomington conducted meetings with area developers, various governmental agencies (MnDOT, Metro Transit, Hennepin County), and Xcel Energy. An in-person meeting was held in December 2019 during an initial reconnaissance trip made by the consultant. Follow up virtual meetings were held in February 2021. The consultant also invited property owners in the study focus area to engage in one-on-one virtual meetings.
Summaries of input received from stakeholders is provided on the graphic below:
The Portland Gateway Report is conceptual in nature and is intended as a tool to provide guidance for revitalization and public realm improvements in the area around Portland Avenue and I-494. Note: meeting packets are generally posted one week prior to the meeting. Meeting packets can be viewed here: www.BloomingtonMN.gov/meetings
- March 25, 2021 Informational update
- July 1, 2021 Review and Recommendations
- April 27, 2021 Informational update
- April 21, 2021 Special (joint) City Council meeting - Informational update. of the Richfield and Bloomington City Council’s. To review a recording of this Special Meeting click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLdU-i5QoLU
- July 26, 2021 (tentative): Bloomington City Council – Review and accept.
The cities of Bloomington and Richfield are working together on this Legacy Project, which pairs us with a national planning and design consultant who will provide pro-bono assistance for the project.
You are welcome to contact us if you have questions or want more information.
Bloomington - Mike Palermo, Planner email@example.com); 952-563-8924); and
Richfield - Melissa Poehlman, Assistant Community Development Director (firstname.lastname@example.org); 612-861-9766)
TSW https://www.tsw-design.com/, a planning and design firm based in Atlanta with assistance from Toole Design https://tooledesign.com/, who has a local Minneapolis office and specializes in innovative transportation planning.
Input on this project was received from residents, businesses, and property owners who use and enjoy this area as well as developers familiar with the area and governmental agencies (MnDOT, Metro Transit, Hennepin County, and Xcel Energy). The ideas and input received during virtual community and stakeholder meetings, online engagement tools, and city officials were incorporated by the TSW design team in the guiding recommendations compiled in the Portland Gateway Report. The cities of Bloomington and Richfield will use the report when considering decisions regarding redevelopment and investments in public improvements (e.g., roads, sidewalks, trails) in the Portland Gateway area.
- Bloomington and Richfield officials will review and accept the Report at their respective meetings over the summer (2021).
- The Report provides valuable base information staff and city officials can consider regarding actions such as: code amendments and rezonings; annual work plan items; and annual updates to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
- As individual actions are moved forward, more extensive internal and community review will be conducted along with public hearings, if required.