To create a vibrant, beautiful and safe Lake Center District.
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The Draft Lake Center District Corridor & Placemaking Study tackles Portage Road’s challenges, opportunity and illustrates the trade-offs that occur within the public right-of-way as we consider a variety of uses – and users. It shows what can be gained by rebalancing the right-of-way. It also shows how designing a corridor around people will best respond to stakeholder feedback, spur economic development and create a memorable place. The vision of a more attractive, multimodal Portage Road anchored by a vibrant Lake Center District for residents, businesses and visitors, is made clear in this plan, and provides the “why” for why the city should act to rebalance and re-envision Portage Road.
With this in mind, the plans seeks to connect and expand this new special place with placemaking activities, physical improvements, gateways, crosswalks, bike routes, boat docks, a lake-to-lake canal walk, and improved accessibility to, from, and throughout the District. A phased implementation plan for achieving these recommendations provides a blueprint for achieving these recommendations, and kicks off implementation with a 1-Year Action Plan.
The Lake Center District study area covers a nearly 2.5-mile length of Portage Road and adjacent businesses, communities, and development between East Centre Avenue and East Osterhout Avenue.
The study process included many opportunities for in-person and virtual public participation, information, and feedback. A wide range of stakeholder engagement tools were engaged to help shape the plan recommendations.
A Lake Center District Steering Committee comprised of area business owners, developers and residents was engaged by the city and consultant through the planning process, meeting several times in 2020 and 2021 to provide feedback and guidance on the study proposals.
Many public engagement activities and feedback opportunities were provided during the study process. The city has received public comments during the entire study process (February 2020-May 2021).
The infographic below illustrates public outreach efforts for this study “by the numbers.”
Review the draft study, related studies that informed and set the stage for the Lake Center District planning process, and submit your comments at: https://www.portagemi.gov/721/Lake-Center-District..
The Steering Committee was organized administratively. The City Council did not decide this. This is not uncommon for steering committees to be assembled administratively for projects such as these. Also, it is not uncommon to have representatives of the council or staff as part of the steering committee. This allows the city to see viewpoints from many different angles.
This was done administratively. The city wanted representatives who would be either directly or indirectly impacted. The city started with the Lake Center Business Association, which provided some names. Several individual recommendations were also made. The Steering Committee comprises business owners, developers, and residents of both West and Austin Lake.
The Steering Committee is comprised of businesses representatives and residents within the Lake Center District. The Steering Committee members can be found at https://www.portagemi.gov/791/LCD-Steering-Committee.
The financial priorities of the city can be reviewed at https://www.portagemi.gov/638/Financial-Documents.
There are a variety of strategic, financial, regulatory tools that can help make this plan a reality for the Lake Center District. Recently, the City Council allocated $6 million for improvements related to the Lake Center District. Depending on the project, funding can be leveraged via the Capital Improvement Program, the proposed Corridor Improvement Authority, commercial corridor redevelopment partnerships, and many other sources to support implementation steps.
The Draft Lake Center District Corridor and Placemaking Study provides a blueprint for how the Lake Center District might achieve its full potential as a community and destination within the City of Portage. The implementation phasing plan in the study outlines near-term opportunities and long-term capital planning for infrastructure projects. It also distinguishes between the implementation of placemaking or programming activities, and infrastructure improvements which are contingent on future decisions, approvals, design development, and funding commitments.
One-Year Action Plan - Comprises planned and budgeted activities for FY21-22 and low-hanging fruit opportunities to immediately activate and improve specific areas of the Lake Center District corridor.
Mid-Term Implementation (2-5 years) - Reflects projects and programming that can be planned, designed and implemented across a 2-5 year timeline. These may include placemaking and policy initiatives, and initial planning for infrastructure improvements.
Long-Term Implementation (5-10 years) - Reflects projects and design development that can be planned, engineered and implemented across a 5-10 year timeline. Planning and design development for these projects can occur in earlier years but coordination, funding sources and prioritization may necessitate longer implementation timelines.
Future Moves - Comprises ideas broached in this study that represent significant investments that will require standalone engineering analysis and cost estimate studies with funding commitments to reflect. These represent projects that may be 20 years in the making, but that are included in the vision for the future of the Lake Center District.
An implementation matrix is provided in Section 5.3 of the study, to summarize which projects solve the issues identified during the study, and proposed cost estimate ranges. The cost estimates included in this study were developed for planning purposes only. They are based on 2020 inputs provided by local realtors, the City Administration, staff, and consultants. Actual cost estimates can only be determined when all scopes of work are finalized, and are subject to contingencies and inflation.
The Lake Center District Corridor & Placemaking Study will not happen overnight. The plan sets the vision and serves as a blueprint for future investments. Infrastructure recommendations in the plan will follow standard project development processes (shown below). Many will require additional approvals and funding considerations by the City Council and City Administration. There is a One-Year Action Plan with key recommendations to advance in the first year. All other recommendations are phased, as outlined in the Implementation Phasing section of the study.
The Planning Commission is involved with the review and recommendation to the City Council of the annual Capital Improvement Program. Funding for certain investments within the study area will be contained within the Capital Improvement Program, others will not. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the FY21-31 ten-year Capital Improvement Program for capital improvement investments citywide, including investments within the study area.
Following the May 15 open house, the Council will bring the draft final study to a public hearing on July 13, 2021, where the public may provide feedback again. If the City Council accepts the study, the individual projects contained within the study will go through standard project development processes and typical budget and City Council approvals.
The master planning process for Lakeview Park is being led the Parks Department . Staff from the Parks department will be on site at the open house on May 15 to provide information on plans for the future of Lakeview Park. There is also cross-coordination of these efforts listed in the study.
The property is currently owned privately. Any development on this site would go through the city’s zoning and development review processes and approvals.
The images and renderings in this planning report are for conceptual and illustrative purposes, except where measurements are shown.
The city has no plans to use eminent domain to acquire property in the Lake Center District. However, if a property becomes available for sale, the city may consider purchasing that property.
At its regular meeting of July 13, 2021 at 7 PM, the City Council will consider accepting the Draft Lake Center District Corridor and Placemaking Study. This will involve a public hearing. If Council accepts the study, the City Administration will move forward in advancing the One-Year Action Plan outlined in the study. Projects will still need to go through the normal budgeting and Council approval processes and there will be ample time for public comments along the way.