Best Laid Plans
October 27, 2009 10:36 AM
They passed almost unnoticed, but let's take a moment to notice them. At the last Council meeting, the University Research Park II and the Northeast Neighborhoods plans both passed on unanimous voice votes, pretty much without debate. On opposite ends of town, these will be two of the most significant land use developments in our city's history.
The UW's first research park has been a tremendous success with 3,500 jobs that average about $62,000. But success has pretty much filled the park now, and so it's time to start a new one, west of West Towne just off Mineral Point Road. The new park will be a little more urban and mixed use in its feel and the UW will create an innovative transportation demand management association that will work to reduce vehicle trips to and from the park. Best of all, like the first park, Research Park II will be a huge economic engine for the city and the region.
The Northeast Neighborhoods lie between I-94 and Highway 151. Right now they're about 2,500 acres of open land, but someday they'll be home to maybe 30,000 people. Getting that plan right was extremely important, so over a year ago I slowed the process down and asked for a new plan. We started by developing some long term goals for the area. These included a 25% reduction in vehicle use, water and energy consumption, and storm water runoff compared to the norm. Then the plan flowed out of those basic goals. Another exciting prospect there is that commuter rail could serve these neighborhoods, making them ripe to be some of the largest transit oriented developments anywhere.
Both plans took long and winding roads to acceptance, but that was appropriate given their scale and importance. Now it's up to us to work with the developers to realize the extraordinary visions we've laid out.