Historic Walker Lake District Revitalization Plan

June 2019   St. Louis Park, MN

Client

  • City of St. Louis Park

Team

  • SRF Consulting

Recognition

  • 2021 Success Stories in Implementation Award, Minnesota American Planning Association
Key Points

This plan provides a mostly ignored commercial area in a first ring suburb opportunities for revitalization.

Business Engagement

In addition to traditional engagement efforts, the plan successfully reached 55 local businesses by going door-to-door, which achieved the goal of engaging 50% of businesses. This then encouraged the development of a merchant’s association, who then was able to leverage grant applications for façade repair projects and public art.

Regulatory Improvements

The plan included updated uses they would like in the district, such as co-working spaces and food halls, as well as uses they would like to exclude, such as car repair services and parking lots. Many trade-offs and barriers were discussed and acknowledged from previous planning work.

Temporary Activations

Temporary activation of underutilized public spaces and parking lots can serve multiple uses: bringing foot traffic and activity to the district which increases awareness and sales for nearby businesses, and creating an affordable, easy-to-manage quick win for the merchant’s association.

The Historic Walker Lake Small Area Plan addresses the challenges facing small businesses including development pressure, incompatible zoning standards, aging buildings, poor connectivity, opposing use patterns, and robust parking requirements.

Viewed as auto-oriented and underutilized, the Historic Walker Lake District is home to a variety of businesses and historic buildings, and has significant redevelopment potential, as identified by numerous planning efforts that came before this small area plan. You can learn more about the history of the district here. In an effort to not replicate previous planning efforts, this small area plan focused on implementing the community’s previously identified vision, as well as new ideas that were developed through the new planning process.

The success of this plan relied heavily on engaging businesses and landowners, which is known to be very difficult because of their commitment to their businesses. Placemaking strategies will attract economic development and increased foot traffic, which will in turn encourage revitalization. Strategies include wayfinding, temporary activations, and pedestrian public realm improvements. The recommended overlay will improve identified gaps in previous recommendations, such as use tradeoffs, parking minimums, and design guidelines.

View the final plan here

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