City plans makeover for North Monroe

THURSDAY, SEPT. 22, 2011

Open house set to discuss details of revitalization project

The city plans to revitalize the Monroe Street Business District and on Wednesday an open house at Empire Office Machines, 1401 N. Monroe St., will pick up the conversation among business owners, residents, the city and other partners in the project.

It’s the area on Monroe Street between Broadway Avenue to the south and Cora Avenue to the north that’s in line for an update. The business area just north of Monroe Street Bridge belongs to the downtown business district and is not included in this revitalization plan, though similar improvements may take place there.

The original streetscape plans were drawn up in 2009 and followed by a feasibility study – it’s now time to decide on the final tweaks and changes.

“This project has been on the backburner for a bit,” said Bob Tweedy, owner of Empire Office Machines and president of the North Monroe Business District. “The original drawings had trees in the median like they have on Mission by Gonzaga. That had to be changed because it proved too expensive. The corridor we are looking at is two miles long.”

Mayor Mary Verner will be at the open house at 4 p.m.

The West Quadrant Tax Increment Financing which was formed in 2007 to facilitate community revitalization in the West Central Neighborhood is one funding source for the revitalization project.

Tweedy has been on Monroe Street for 18 years, and he is encouraging business owners and residents to show up at the open house.

“It’s been hard to get people to participate sometimes,” said Tweedy. “There have been a lot of disruptions on the street in the time I’ve been here. The bridge was closed for a couple of years and then there were water and sewer upgrades.”

When the revitalization project gets started it will probably include closing parts of Monroe as the project moves ahead.

“I think the city has been very good about helping businesses with signage during street closures, like on Market Street for instance,” said Tweedy.

Tweedy added that the open house is just a start.

“A project like this will take some time, perhaps it will be two or three years down the road,” he said. “It’s important to gather the businesses along Monroe to see that we are all in agreement on what has to be done.”

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