While there have been signs of planning for several months, this week marked the real beginning of construction on the "back streets" of downtown Brookings.
It's a $2.9 million street improvement project, which will include burying utility lines and repaving streets in the downtown area just a block south of Chetco Avenue. Plans for a second project will extend the improvements further south, basically creating a redeveloped area between Chetco and Railroad.
Does that area sound a bit familiar? If you were here for the debate over the proposed downtown couplet, it should. In addition to safely handling the increased future traffic of Highway 101, one of the visions in developing a couplet was to expand the downtown business district into that same area, creating a viable neighborhood for commercial uses that are away from the traffic of Highway 101.
It's a natural progression. Already Spruce and Hemlock, the two streets in between Chetco and Railroad, are lined with a mix of commercial and residential uses andndash; sometimes in the same building. Parking and strolling these streets is a much quieter and varied experience than being on Highway 101.
That experience will only be enhanced by this project, and the one that follows. The city is betting that business owners will take notice, and clearly expects more commercial uses to follow the public improvements.
Since much of the work is funded by the special tax system of an Urban Renewal Agency, that's appropriate. The increased value of the properties in the urban renewal district generated the tax funds that will pay for the improvements. With improvements in the public infrastructure, the hope is for improvements in private property, which in turn will generate more property taxes.
We're betting that this investment will pay off quite well.