KEARNEY — The city’s central business district — Downtown Kearney: The Bricks — is in the midst of a historic transformation, said a city of Kearney official who on Tuesday will reveal plans to encourage additional development.
“This is truly a historic era to witness the reinvestment occurring in downtown Kearney as the Bricks serves as the heart of our community,” said Brenda Jensen, director of the city’s Developmental Services Department. “All of these amazing projects occurring will ensure it (downtown) remains a vital aspect of Kearney.”
In a memo to city council members, Jensen said the city recently awarded $175,000 in downtown rehabilitation grants, and, in turn, the 14 recipients invested an additional $800,000 of their own money to further modernize and revitalize their places of business.
“Downtown property owners are very busy with their own projects, including eight active building permits, and significant sign, awning and cosmetic interior upgrades that are ongoing,” Jensen said.
To complement and encourage those types of changes, the city has conducted a number of listening sessions with business owners, Jensen said. Based on ideas shared during those sessions, she said the city staff has created a five-point plan to implement during 2022.
The plan includes:
– Addition of lighting along the tops of downtown buildings;
– Creating a program to extend water mains for fire suppression systems;
– Working with the Kearney Cultural Partners to achieve a creative district designation;
– Adoption of the C-PACE renewable, energy efficiency program; and,
– Evaluating if it’s possible to eliminate traffic lights along First Avenue, excluding 22nd Street.
Jensen said the five-point plan builds on the momentum business operators have created and on recent actions by the city to help downtown businesses.
In addition to the $175,000 in rehabilitation grants, the council recently waived permit fees for remodeling projects, simplified right-of-way agreements for sidewalk seating areas, replaced street lights, fixed potholes and laid asphalt overlays on several downtown streets.
“To complement these physical projects, the Development Services Department also is working hard to evaluate internal processes, update fliers and communication tools, and offer a voluntary building audit program,” said Jensen, who will outline the progress and plans for downtown Kearney during Tuesday’s council meeting.
The meeting is open to the public and begins at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers in City Hall at 18 E. 22nd St.