HRA approves plan for new downtown parking lot

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

A plan for a new parking lot in downtown Elk River will add about 20 new parking spaces, close an existing access and strengthen pedestrian routes.

This one-way access to a parking lot behind Jackson Avenue businesses will be closed. All traffic will enter and exit the parking lot at King Avenue.

The design, known as Concept A, was endorsed unanimously Monday by the Elk River Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA).

The new parking lot will be built at 716 and 720 Main St., where the city demolished two buildings earlier this year. The approved concept calls for a U-shaped parking lot with plantings in the center.

There also would be landscaping along the Elk River Meats wall overlooking the parking lot as well as along Main Street by the new lot.

In addition, the plan calls for a pedestrian pathway between the new parking lot and the buildings facing Jackson Avenue that could potentially be finished with pavers or decorative concrete.

Preliminary cost of the parking lot including curb and gutter, bituminous paving, concrete pavers, landscaping, irrigation and a concrete walk is $70,000.

The HRA also discussed moving forward with other parking lot amenities (which would cost extra) including a bike rack, trash receptacles, a trash enclosure for business trash, lighting and, at the south end of the new parking lot along Main Street, benches or stone slabs. The amenities would repeat the design of those found in the downtown River’s Edge Commons Park.

Landform, a Minneapolis-based consulting firm, will be putting together a master plan which may include additional amenities which may be added over time, according to Elk River Director of Economic Development Annie Deckert.

The HRA settled on Concept A for the parking lot after considering three concepts presented by Kendra Lindahl and Brady Halverson of Landform. Two of the three concepts eliminated the existing access off Main Street behind Avalon Salon. The third turned the access from one-way to two-way traffic.

This is the plan for the new downtown Elk River parking lot.

The existing one-way access from Main Street to the parking lot behind Jackson Avenue businesses now runs just east of the site where the two buildings were torn down. Closing that access means all traffic will enter and leave the parking area at King Avenue.

HRA Commissioner Louise Kuester said it would ultimately be safer and clearer to have one entrance and exit. She also liked the stronger pedestrian area in the concept that was approved. HRA commissioners Jean Lieser and Larry Toth and HRA Chair Stewart Wilson also supported closing the one-way access.

HRA Member Paul Motin expressed some concern about closing it. He thought it made sense to keep the second access into the parking area.

In a related matter, there was fleeting mention of a “wall fall” or water feature on the Elk River Meats wall facing the parking lot. But that idea went nowhere. Halverson said that water feature alone would cost more than the entire parking lot.

The next step is for the city to solicit quotes for the parking lot construction based on documents drawn up by Landform. The HRA is expected to consider a construction contract in May. The goal is to have the parking lot finished by June 28, which is the first day of the Farmers Market. The Farmers Market will be located in the new parking lot this summer. It previously was held in the parking lot of Westbound Liquor.