Burnsville is a City where there are choices of living experiences. The Heart of the City is an urban environment in a Suburban setting. Under Mayor Elizabeth Kautz's leadership a visioning process called Partnership for Tomorrow was initiated and over 1000 residence, business owners and stakeholders participated. One of the results of that very lengthy two year process was the vision for the 'Heart of the City', a downtown area, a place for people to gather and to get to know one another; a place where families could experience and enjoy art and culture in a pedestrian friendly environment.
The area of Burnsville Parkway and Nicollet Avenue was identified at one time by our forefathers as a downtown area, however, when the Burnsville Regional Shopping Center was located along County Road 42, the commercial focus was redirected and the original vision perished. Thus, the area of Burnsville Parkway and Nicollet Avenue was chosen to revive an area that was tired and depressed and showing signs of blight with the abandoned K-mart site and the failing Diamondhead Mall which was struggling with only 2 vendors left and the buildings were being tagged with graffiti. The almost 60 acre site was only yielding about $146,000.00 in property taxes.
Mayor Elizabeth Kautz believes that the work of Government is to set the table with the infrastructure (which is Government's role) and allow the Private sector to fill it with abundance.
The planning, rezoning, and creating the Tax Increment Financing District within the defined 'Heart of the City' was another lengthy process including many citizens who gave of their time, talent and intellectual resources to create the Design Framework Guidelines for development within the Heart of the City.
The setting of the table was to create a pleasing environment where developers would want to build their products. The streetscape and decorative lighting along Burnsville Parkway and Nicollet Avenue and the redesign of the streets to make them pedestrian friendly was part of the table being set. Nicollet Commons Park is the center piece and the jewel that attracts our families and guests to gather and enjoy each other and all the activities that take place in the Park.
In 2004 The City of Burnsville installed Nicollet Commons Park and Grand Market Square and Grand Market Place were built by Sherman and Associates, soon after all the other developments by private developers began to fill the Heart of the City with abundance with condominiums for a different homeowner choice, restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream store, a Cub grocery store and more. Today, the Heart of the City is fulfilling the vision and dream of many citizens of Burnsville. The Performing Arts Center was one of the ingredients in making this Heart pulse with vibrancy. The almost 60 acres site that was once depressed and tired is now filled with liveliness and energy of enthusiasm and vitality. It also now yields close to million dollars in taxes payable in 2009 and much more when all the products that have been approved are built.