By: Deborah Johnson Wood
A real estate development and property management company operating in Belknap Lookout is funding a series of public charrettes with a goal of helping neighborhood residents establish a plan to develop housing, retail, and restaurants in the neighborhood.
The plan focuses on the neighborhood's core, bounded by Bradford (north), Fairview (west), Hastings (south), and Lafayette (east).
Artesian Group, soon to be headquartered in a renovated building within the target area at 605 Livingston NE, began purchasing houses in Belknap five years ago. The group renovates and leases the properties.
"Belknap has a great location on the bluff overlooking the city and proximity to the medical mile," says Angel Gonzalez, owner of Artesian Group. "It's a place unlike anywhere else in the city."
Gonzalez notes that after the construction of I-196 split the neighborhood, demolished homes, and removed residents, many of the businesses left, too.
"There was a time when there was a laundromat and a grocery store, a bank you could walk to," Gonzalez says. "Will those businesses serve our needs today, or do we want a deli or a coffee shop, instead?"
Today, the neighborhood is bounded by the intensifying development on Health Hill to the south, and the steady redevelopment of the North Monroe district to the west. Together, the two areas are attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in new private investment.
Another goal of the Belknap neighborhood's Area Specific Plan process is to develop housing for a variety of residents, lifestyles, and incomes ranging from college students to senior citizens. The charrettes will focus specifically on the types of housing, locations, and density that will most effectively accelerate revitalization.
Gonzalez says he has a personal interest in the neighborhood because, not only is his business based there, but in a few months he, his wife, and his four young children will move into a home they've been renovating on Fairview, also within the target area.
"My family's going to live here, and that's where it started for me, just saying, hey, how can we improve the neighborhood."
Source: Angel Gonzalez, Artesian Group
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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].