ARLINGTON - Senior housing, a grocery store, sidewalk improvements and banners that celebrate New York Avenue area's history and international diversity are among ideas in a draft plan aimed at revitalizing the east Arlington's "downtown."Last year, Arlington approved a $131,000 contract with consultants to identify redevelopment opportunities and infrastructure improvements designed to lure new private investment along the New York Avenue corridor.After hearing from a 20-member advisory group and local stakeholders the past few months, the consultants have drafted a vision for the aging area that outlines economically feasible residential and commercial projects for the area as well as aesthetic and safety improvements, such as landscaping and better sidewalks."It's been really evident and clear that this has truly been a community-led project. We've got a lot of really great feedback," said Alicia Winkelblech, the city's transportation planning manager. "Our consultant team is trying to be true to the things we heard in that vision. It's an exciting project."An Arlington City Council committee is scheduled to begin reviewing recommendations Tuesday, though the full council is not expected to vote on the final corridor plan until September. A final public hearing on the draft strategy before it goes to Planning and Zoning Commission and council is set for June 1.Increased property valuesEfforts are being focused on the area between Abram Street to the north, Arkansas Lane to the south, Browning Drive to the west and Sherry Street to the east. That area, considered by some as east Arlington's downtown, serves as a key north-south link between Interstate 20 and the entertainment district, Great Southwest Industrial District and General Motors Assembly Plant, project manager Douglas McDonald said.Besides improvements including landscaping, street trees and a new sidewalk along the eastern edge of New York Avenue, the consultants have recommended installing banners or flags that highlight both the international diversity and the community's heyday in the 1950s and 1960s after the opening of the General Motors assembly plant.Consultants have also identified three areas for possible redevelopment that, if realized, could add an estimated $75 million to the property values in the area.Possible projects at the corner of New York and Abram include a new grocery store and loft apartments with retail and office space on the ground floor. That area has some mid-century homes that have been converted into commercial use."All of the uses identified have very strong backing from consultants doing market analysis. They have really looked at the market," Winkelblech said.New housing recommendedAt New York and Park Row, the consultants have suggested more mixed-use development that would include residential space as well as restaurants, shops and even doctor's offices. This area has also been identified as a good location for the proposed combination of the east Arlington branch library and the Hugh Smith Recreation Center, a project the city is considering.Stakeholders have also said they would like to see town homes marketed for older residents in this area, replacing some of the existing apartment complexes.At New York and Pioneer, consultants suggest building new assisted living senior housing and making improvements to the existing shopping areas by attracting new businesses and improving building facades."A lot of the residents have lived there since GM opened up. They have been there since the 50s and 60s. They want to stay in east Arlington but there are no options for them," McDonald said.Luring that private development, though, may require to the city to invest $1 of public funds for every $5.50 spent, the consultants wrote in their report to council.This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578Twitter@susanschrock
East Arlington Plan
A final public hearing on the draft New York Avenue Corridor Strategy is set for 10 a.m. to noon June 1 at the Senior Recreation Center, 1815 New York Ave. Spanish, Vietnamese and American Sign Language translators will be present. The Arlington City Council is expected to vote on the final strategy in September. To learn more about the proposed improvements, visit www.arlingtontx.gov/planning/newyorkavenue.html.