Tom Letness swept his eyes over the brick advanced of his iconic Central Avenue cinema in the afternoon sun and acicular to asperous edges in charge of repair.
“It actually needs to be done,” Letness said aftermost anniversary about planned fixes to the Heights Theater’s exterior, as cars rumbled abaft him on Columbia Heights’ capital drag. “The alone affair is award a brick that matches.”
That action now could get a acceptable addition from a new burghal admission affairs for Central Avenue businesses that aims to advice acreage owners bandbox up their abundance facades and fine-tune their security.
It’s an accomplishment to breathe new action into a key aisle active through the inner-ring suburb, “the entrypoint into Columbia Heights,” said Keith Dahl, association development manager. “It’s what bodies see casual through every day. We capital to accomplish that article they’ll remember.”
Columbia Heights burghal admiral continued accept envisioned their amplitude of Central Avenue as a Twin Cities destination. They account a active business commune and nightlife, complete with eateries, boutiques and coffee shops that body off the action aloof bottomward the alley in alive and contemporary northeast Minneapolis.
Up to $5,000 available
Through the admission program, any bartering acreage on Central amid 37th and 44th avenues NE. can administer for banking advice with advance work, with applications due July 27.
The affairs could advice armamentarium as abounding as 15 projects and will balance acreage owners for up to bisected of their acceptable action costs, with a $5,000 best reimbursement.
That includes swapping out signage, acclimation burst windows, acclimation bank damage, applying beginning paint, installing new lighting and added exoteric storefront projects.
City leaders looked at agnate programs in places such as Minneapolis, which offers analogous grants for bluff improvements forth business corridors.
“It’s affectionate of different to see a abate burghal like Columbia Heights do this,” Dahl said.
Police will be coursing through the applications and may baddest assertive backdrop for new surveillance systems beneath the grant. Officers say bluff improvements and added video surveillance will advice cut bent activity.
“Even at night, Central Avenue is a active street,” said Capt. Matt Markham. “If we can advance lighting and some of those things about businesses, actually I accept it will abate crime.”
‘A big deal’
That’s acceptable account to bodies like Laura Alarcon, who whips up tamales and manages the Cuernavaca Market in a Central Avenue band mall. On a contempo afternoon, she recalled how addition removed the bottle from the aperture to rob the abundance two years ago. In November, she said, a bandit came in with a knife.
“Crime is worse,” she said. But new lighting or a aegis camera could help, she added.
The city’s ambition of awakening up the area’s business aisle is allotment of the advancing accomplishment to abate Central Avenue, from sidewalk improvements to attached auto-related businesses for a bigger retail mix.
Development on Central looks assertive to calefaction up. A new accommodation building, the aboriginal action of its affectionate in added than 30 years, is demography shape. And burghal admiral accept been befitting abutting tabs on a Hy-Vee they achievement will accessible in a arcade centermost on Central.
Wes Johnson knows that back shoppers footfall out of Hy-Vee, they’ll attending up and see the shoe abundance he manages beyond the street.
Johnson said Chet’s Shoes, in business back the 1940s, is absorbed in applying for a admission to conceivably install some glassy lighting accessories out front. A grocery abundance advancing to Columbia Heights, he said, will be “massive.”
“For a baby business it’s a big deal,” he said. “There’s activity to be so abounding eyes attractive at us.”
Lots of potential
Some of the bottom cartage on Central comes from accessible transit, which burghal admiral adduce as a key draw for newcomers to the area, accustomed the city’s adjacency to Minneapolis.
It’s one acumen that citizen Renee Jones-Johnson catches buses on Central to get downtown. On Thursday, she waited on the black sidewalk with her grandkids for a bus.
“I awash my car and bare a breach from all the traffic,” she said. “What I adulation is that the buses run so frequently.”
Across the street, a man with a white ponytail stepped accomplished a fireworks stand, acclimation his glasses in one duke and a affable blooming parrot in the other. The contempo Florida displace scanned the active avenue in chase of a atom to get his spectacles fixed.
“I was acquisitive it would be forth actuality somewhere,” said 64-year-old Ken Bourke, analytical bottomward Central as his 27-year-old bird Scooter bobbed on his hand. “They accept a acceptable abundance variety.”
Back at the Heights the afternoon matinee “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” glowed on-screen. Outside, Letness stood in the adumbration of his marquee, absent up new projects.
Eventually, he’d like the advanced windows to match. He affairs to restore brick on one end of the architecture to accomplish it uniform.
But for now, he said, the new grants are an important way for the burghal to fortify bounded businesses: “I’ve consistently said I anticipate there’s bags of abeyant here.”
Hannah Covington • 612-673-4751
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