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Highway 3 Corridor Study taking shape

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FARMINGTON—A gateway entrance into a city can serve as curb appeal or perhaps detract interested developers. Available land can attract commercial business to check out the city and available acreage ready to redevelop. Farmington Economic Development agreed in May to move forward with a draft study to address a potential Highway 3 Corridor Study.

The city received grant approval June 8 and entered into an agreement with Dakota County Community Development Authority. Now the city awaits the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's confirmation of block grant dollars.

Highway 3 serves as the north and south entrance into Farmington and connects to Castle Rock to the south and Empire Township to the north.

"The extent of this study would take a look at the land use on either side of the highway, and it is taking a look at any compatibilities or recommendations to improve the Highway 3 corridor as one of the main gateways into and out of Farmington," Farmington Community Development Director Adam Kienberger said.

The corridor study would not focus on highway, but land uses on either side of Highway.

"As we are in the closing stages of our 2040 Comp Plan, it takes a very large-scale, long-term, holistic look at the community's long-term development, and this may be very similar to the downtown redevelopment plan about two years ago," Kienberger said.

"We would take a look at key connecting corridors in the downtown area and perhaps look at adding gateway signage — what we doing along our main corridors is to direct our focus and attention to the downtown as our key redevelopment area," Kienberger said.

Because Highway 3 is among the oldest corridors in the community, there are several uses—commercial, residential and mixed. Kienberger said the study will examine these and outline changes that may benefit the community.

Financing and timing

Dakota County Community Development Authority's Redevelopment Incentive Grant award of $15,000 will be matched with $15,000 of Community Development Block Grant dollars managed by the CDA. The federal HUD dollars also would be a matching grant and flow through the CDA. Pending federal approval, those funds would most likely be available after July 1. "We will be operating similarly to how the city laid out the Farmington Downtown Redevelopment Plan, and that is to first go through the first draft of scope work and send it out to the consulting world to get feedback and review, and receive proposals on potential costs of the project," Kienberger said. "Once those are received, we will have a group review those proposals and ultimately recommend an outside consultant," Kienberger said.

After scope of work is determined, city staff will seek proposals from a consultant group that will review and recommend changes. The estimated timeline to begin the study may be mid to late August. When a final firm is selected, the city staff will work with Farmington Planning Commission, Empire Township, Castle Rock, Minnesota Department of Transportation and Dakota County.

It is important to have a vision and plan in place, Kienberger said, so the community is ready for developers and private investors. "They can come in and approach us and understand the city is already on board with this general direction for this area uptown, and it is much easier for them to plug into a project at that point rather than coming in cold," he said.