What is the Portland Legacy Project?
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).
Where is this project area?
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.
Why focus on the area around Portland and I-494?
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 2021 - 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.
Existing Conditions and Draft Framework
The Legacy Project will result in 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 infrastructure improvements. The consultant has completed an analysis of existing conditions and initial findings, which are depicted in the following graphics:
Input and Review
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
Planning Commission Informational Update March 25th
Staff provided an informational update to the Planning Commission on March 25th.
Special (joint) City Council Meeting - April 21, 2021
Informational update. To review a recording of this Special Meeting of the Richfield and Bloomington City Council’s, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLdU-i5QoLU
Bloomington HRA - April 27, 2021
Who is leading the project?
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 - Julie Farnham, Senior Planner (firstname.lastname@example.org; 952-563-4739); and
Richfield - Melissa Poehlman, Assistant Community Development Director (email@example.com; 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.
How will your input be used?
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 will be used by the TSW design team to describe guiding recommendations that will be compiled in a report the cities of Bloomington and Richfield can use to set priorities for decisions and investments in public improvements (e.g., roads, sidewalks, trails) and property redevelopment.
- Consultant will finalize the plan report by early May, which will incorporate input received from the community, property owners, agencies, and city officials.
- Bloomington and Richfield officials will review and accept the final report at their respective meetings in late May and June.