12th Street improvements to cost over $2 million, Manhattan approves CDBG plan


A streetscape revamp in Aggieville will cost the City of Manhattan a maximum of $2.043 million.

The Manhattan City Commission Tuesday unanimously approved the guaranteed maximum price with McCownGordon Construction, the construction manager at risk on the project. The commission previously approved the plans to redevelop street and subterranean infrastructure on 12th Street from Bluemont Avenue to Moro Street and on Bluemont from 12th to Manhattan Avenue. They opted to go with a curbless “inverted crown” design on 12th.

The project is one of the first components of a possible $30 million in public infrastructure redevelopment projects in the Aggieville area approved in concept in the Aggieville Redevelopment Plan.

“The Aggieville Business Association Board of Directors is 100% in support of the 12th Street Redevelopment Project,” writes ABA Executive Director Dennis Cook. “This is the first step in the revitalization of our vibrant historic business district. We are excited to begin the improvements that will lead us to a more pedestrian oriented, urban shopping and dining area. Our goal is to is be a catalyst to promoting the general and economic welfare of the City of Manhattan. We love MHK and thank you for your consideration.”

The design features brick pavers on walkways and roadways and a curbless transition from street to sidewalk. Drainage would be run down the center of the street and the roadway would have the potential to be shut down at the alley between Moro and Bluemont by bollards to create a pedestrian environment during special events. The west side of 12th would be dotted with trees while the east side would have overhead shading — with outdoor dining possible on either side. Brick and plant features would extend onto Bluemont.

A composite of the 12th Street design preferred by the Aggieville Business Association and Manhattan City Commission. (Courtesy of the City of Manhattan)

Previous estimates tabulated the project around $1.7 million, but the commission had authorized funding for the project totaling $2.3 million in May of 2019.

Work is slated to begin May 18, with the bulk completing around October and the rest wrapping up that winter or the following Spring. During that time, Deputy City Manager Jason Hilgers says 12th Street between Moro and Bluemont will have to be closed to vehicles and 10 street-side parking stalls will be permanently removed. He says city officials will be in touch to work out parking accommodations with Stickel’s Cleaners.

“Deliveries will occur on Moro,” Hilgers says. “This will be similar to what occurred during some of the prep work for the hotel — the alleyway was under construction there between Tanner’s and the hotel so a lot of deliveries were coming off Moro.”

An illustration of the new traffic plan at 12th and Bluemont; left turns onto 12th Street will be halted through October, but a turn into the gas station and convenience store parking lot will be opened. (Courtesy of the City of Manhattan)

Funding sources identified were a combination of water and stormwater money, funds from bond and interest or a new or renewed economic development sales tax, CARES Act funding, new market tax credits as well as the Aggieville Tax Increment Finance District. The TIF district is estimated to bring in between $15 and $20 million over 20 years — it captures tax revenue from increased property valuations and earmarks the funds for public improvements in a set area.

Hilgers says the cost of the streetscape overhaul and the planned Aggieville parking garage will be rolled into a single 20-year bond to lower the annual impact to the city. He says it’s the city’s goal not to utilize property tax money in the project. With the expected TIF revenue and a possible $5 million from new market tax credits and CARES money, Hilgers says funding is sufficient to cover this project along with the parking garage and Laramie Street improvements.

“After that, it’s going to get difficult.”

Butler says that means they can comfortably start Aggieville redevelopment projects, but Manhattan may need to push off unfunded portions of the plan depending on what the full revenue picture looks like.

“That would tell me we’re not over-committed yet, and that’s what I want to be sure we don’t do,” says Mayor Pro Tempore Wynn Butler. “That we stay within there and when it comes to crunch [and]all of a sudden the money’s not there or the EcoDevo renewal tax fails, then so be it.”

Mayor Usha Reddi was comfortable with moving forward with the 12th Street project, but expects that a multi-year period of economic recovery for the region could pose issues for additional projects.

“All of those projects are going to have a different type of timeline is what I’m thinking,” says Reddi.

“This is something that I think it’s okay to do for now, but there are other projects that have a bigger budget that we need to look at a little bit more closer and critically.”

Commissioners also approved a development agreement to improve water utility lines in conjunction with the street and hotel construction project. The improvements will create redundancy in the system and improve service to the whole district.

Courtyard by Marriott ownership will reimburse the city about $52,000, or about 85 percent of the project cost. The project was planned to occur at the same time as street and hotel construction so as to avoid impacting their operations upon opening as well as consolidating construction activity into one period.

After receiving little feedback during the federally-mandated public comment period, Manhattan approved its five-year consolidated Community Development Block Grant plan and its annual action plan for CDBG projects.

The Manhattan City Commission unanimously approved the plan after a Tuesday public hearing. They previously discussed the program in April.

Federal CDBG grants, allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), are intended to benefit low and moderate income residents and neighborhoods. The program provides funds for safe and suitable housing projects, improvements to the accessibility of housing as well as community infrastructure and services, and generally promote sustainable and viable communities.

Manhattan is anticipating approximately $850,000 — $559,229 in typical CDBG funding and an additional $328,976 thanks to the federal CARES Act.

“I think this is very necessary,” says Reddi. “CDBG has always been very much part of our community and we hope to continue that with the projects as far as housing and for our low and middle income folks who need public transportation, child care, quality housing and such.”

The year’s action plan for the CDBG money allocates about $181,000 to housing rehabilitation programs, $185,000 for improvements to public facilities and infrastructure, nearly $84,000 for social services and $109,000 for administration costs — including the salary for the grant administrator.

Officials began the plan prior to the pandemic and anticipate there may be a need to shift CDBG funds around, specifically noting that the $185,000 planned for public facilities projects may be redirected for pandemic response. Where the CARES Act money will be allocated is still to-be-determined, though it can be utilized to establish an infectious disease treatment or rehab facility or to provide grants or loans to businesses in need or expanding to provide medical equipment.

Officials have been in contact with local social service providers to discuss priorities for the CARES Act funds, as well as USD 383 — something proposed by Commissioner Aaron Estabrook given the service needs within the student population.

“I think there is quite a bit we as the city can do in concert with 383,” Estabrook says.

Commissioner Linda Morse also noted she’s supportive and enthusiastic for the funding and the projects it supports, but raised concerns that Northview is not in their focus. She says that there are numerous low and moderate income individuals living in that neighborhood, but the area as a whole doesn’t meet the threshold. Projects are targeted toward census tracts that with a majority of low or moderate income residents.

Census tracts tinted red are those with a majority of residents that are low or moderate income. (Courtesy of the City of Manhattan)

“It’s clear that this program is designed for bigger cities where a census tract makes up a whole big area of like income people.”

Manhattan must submit their plans to HUD by May 15. The program year begins in July.


About Author

Nick McNamara

Local government reporter, sometimes host/producer of the KMAN Morning Show. 2017 Long Beach State graduate in Journalism/Native American cultures. Los Angeles County born and raised. Nick can be reached at Nick@1350KMAN.com.

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