City hosts dialogue on downtown development

Published on Fri, May 27, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Blaine has the potential to develop a thriving downtown area, but members of the community seem uncertain as to how to go about achieving that goal.

This was the prevailing feeling at a public meeting Tuesday evening hosted by Blaine planning department staff. The meeting brought together a handful of local business owners and city council members to discuss the status of Blaine’s downtown district and explain the area’s zoning regulations.

Blaine planning director Michael Jones said the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting, and the three to follow, is to garner ideas and opinions from the public on how to best proceed with revitalization efforts for the downtown district.

Blaine community planner Alex Wenger explained Blaine’s downtown area, stretching from Marine Drive to roughly Peace Portal Drive and Blaine Road to the south and to Mitchell Avenue to the east, includes land zoned commercial and transitional, which holds both commercial and residential properties. Wenger estimated 19 percent of the ground floor commercial space in the downtown district comprises service-based commercial properties, such as retail stores, while 14 percent is residential properties.

About 15 percent of the ground-floor commercial space in the downtown area lies vacant, Wenger added.

Most meeting attendees agreed downtown Blaine would benefit from a central building or landmark and a more cohesive feel to area. Bill Becht, owner of Horseshoe Coins and Antiques, said the eventual opening of Jack Niemann’s Black Forest Steak House in the old bank building on H Street will be a boon for community. Becht said he is hopeful for the future of Blaine, as long as developers and business owners are willing to take the risk of setting up shop in the downtown area.

The next meeting on Blaine’s downtown revitalization will start at 7 p.m. on June 7 at Blaine city hall. The topic will be emerging trends in nearby small towns. Subsequent meetings will be held on June 14 and June 28.