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St. Francis has “lots” to offer!

Jan. 17, 2014

Although we’ve gotten used to thinking of St. Francis as a nice, sleepy little town where nothing much happens, big changes are on the way and our Common Council has some important decisions to make.

Our community is in transition. New residents have been buying homes at a steady pace over the past five years in hopes of becoming part of a vibrant, thriving community. Like most of us, they would prefer to spend their money in their own community and are looking for amenities that will make their lives in St. Francis easier, happier, and more productive. The good news is, we have lots to offer!

Our Planning Commission, Community Development Authority, and Economic Development Committee have been discussing several sites of interest in St. Francis. These “Catalytic Sites” are ripe for development:

· Layton Avenue across from the airport
· Layton Avenue from Pennsylvania to Nicholson
· Kinnickinnic and Howard intersection
· Packard Avenue from Lake Drive to Howard
· Lake Drive from Howard to Lunham

In addition, the former Blockbuster Video site on Layton Avenue is a huge development opportunity for the right business, and the industrial property at 2517 East Norwich has been donated to the city for cleanup and redevelopment. The Lake Drive/Howard/Packard triangle has suffered the effects of the recession, but the Mandel Group is redoubling its efforts to find smart uses for the property. There are also several large, empty lots in the city that could be used for two- or four-family homes.

The bad news is, these Catalytic Sites, despite being a much-needed source of tax revenue, jobs, and economic growth, are still sitting vacant or underused. It’s time to make some decisions about our options for developing these sites. We cannot continue “business as usual.”

When I’m elected, I will work toward more efficient and effective development of these empty spaces, because they are strong and viable options for local jobs, expansion of our tax base, and smart growth. I love this city, and as a driving force on the Common Council, I will help make St. Francis the dynamic, prosperous community that I know it can be!

What do think? Coffee shop? Loft apartments? Small business center? Single- and multi-family homes? Do-it-yourself car shop? Community garden? Deli and sandwich shop? Children’s play place? Bookstore? The possibilities are endless. We just need to get things moving. As your Alderperson, you can trust me to listen to your ideas and concerns and bring them to the Common Council.

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