A plan to redevelop Commerce Drive in upper North Mankato continues to progress as the corridor could undergo major improvements as early as next year.
Of the top 50 employers in the Mankato metro, seven of them lie in close proximity to Commerce Drive, which has also seen a boost in visitors with the nearby Caswell Complex. City Staff report annual visitors at the facility jumped by nearly 37-thousand between 2013 and 2016. That coupled with a new walking and biking trail along Highway 14 has contributed to more congestion.
Mayor Mark Dehen says they are continuing to explore how to improve the walkability and attractiveness of the area.
“I think the other piece that we’re most interested in is probably looking at limiting down some of the accesses, because there’s so many driveways up there, especially on the east end. There’s lots of points of conflict. We’d like to try and calm that down, a little bit of traffic calming in there. There’s roughly, I think, 11-thousand cars a day through that intersection with Lor Ray (Drive), Commerce intersection. So our concern is to make that safe.”
The report notes that the City plans to work to establish the corridor as a destination to create a unique retail environment. Residents who gave feedback last year expressed a desire to see more options on Commerce Drive, which included a coffee shop, hotel, grocery store and better connections to recreational amenities.
City Officials are also still calculating public input from a recent questionnaire on Commerce Drive that was completed on May 14.
In 2019, North Mankato will receive 900-thousand dollars from the Federal Surface Transportation Fund for improvements.
It’s anticipated the Commerce Drive plan will be completed this summer.