ARLINGTON -- City leaders are now focusing revitalization efforts on an area some residents consider to be east Arlington's "downtown."

The City Council recently approved a $131,000 contract with consultants to identify redevelopment opportunities and infrastructure improvements that could spur new private investment along the New York Avenue corridor. The aging area, with a mix of homes and culturally diverse businesses, serves as a key north-south link between Interstate 20 and the entertainment district, Great Southwest Industrial District and General Motors Assembly Plant, city officials said.

"We focus a lot on downtown and that relationship with UTA. We've looked at Division," Project Manager Douglas McDonald said. "I think it's important that we look at all areas of the city. We have to make sure we are really providing services and if there is development and redevelopment that need to occur. If we don't it becomes more difficult to address it later on."

The target area for study is between Abram Street to the north, Arkansas Lane to the south, Browning Drive to the west and Sherry Street to the east. Consultants are expected to begin gathering public comments on desired improvements along the corridor in early December with the goal of presenting the council with a comprehensive plan for approval by August.

Resurfacing plans

The council identified the area, which has vacant strip centers with crumbling parking lots and homes built in the 1950s and 1960s, as a target for redevelopment last year. The consultant's study will include an inventory and analysis of existing land uses, property value trends, demographic projections, transportation issues and possible barriers to redevelopment.

Community leader Sue Phillips said city investment in infrastructure is key to making the New York Avenue corridor attractive to developers. "Realistically, there is not going to be any redevelopment as long as the street looks like it does," said Phillips, East Arlington Renewal president. "Developers want to see evidence that there is hope. It's like wearing tennis shoes with a tuxedo. There's the wrong message there."

Arlington plans to resurface New York Avenue between Arkansas Lane and Park Row Drive, repair sidewalks and add new handicap ramps sometime next year but will wait to see what recommendations, such as streetscaping or new turn lanes, the study recommends.
The maintenance work, which will postpone the need for a more expensive rebuild for several years, is largely being paid for with revenue from the street maintenance sales tax.

Goals

A grocery store, such as a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, a gated community with a park and walking trails for active seniors, and a Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy store are among projects that Phillips said some east Arlington residents would like to see. "East Arlington Renewal is begging for a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. The older population is outraged that Braum's moved away," said Phillips, who said the area has ethnic grocery stores but nothing for the general population.

Another idea would be to combine the east Arlington branch library, the Hugh Smith Recreation Center and the police station into one location, which would free up land that is currently off the tax rolls for redevelopment, Phillips said.

Community input will be critical for identifying what services and improvements residents, business owners and potential investors truly want, said Bridgett White, community development and planning assistant director."It's a very diverse area. We definitely have to be mindful of the demographic makeup and really making sure we get the input of the stakeholders," White said. "To really make it successful, we have to make sure we look at what will work for that particular area. Like downtown, it's an older area."

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578
Twitter: @susanschrock

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/09/30/4300008/arlington-focuses-on-new-york.html#storylink=cpy