Johnson Downtown Revitalization Plan

johnson_location_mapThe Village of Johnson (pop. 280), was suffering from a broken heart. The heart of the village – its downtown area – was beginning to look ragged and worn. The deteriorating condition of the area was evident in the damaged streets, cracked sidewalks, insufficient streetlights, and inadequate surface drainage.

“Safety had become a real issue for the community with the poor sidewalks and dim lighting,” said Carol Bruggeman, village clerk.

To mend its broken heart, the Johnson Strategic Planning Committee along with the Village Board devised a plan to revitalize the downtown area. The plan involved conducting a study to evaluate the current condition and to establish recommendations for renovations. This plan, Johnson Downtown Revitalization, was created to establish goals and objectives for the future of the area.

To fulfill the plan, the Village of Johnson looked to the team of Sinclair Hille Architects and Olmsted & Perry Consulting Engineers to conduct the study and provide recommendations. The Village of Johnson looked to the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) for assistance in funding the plan. They applied for funding through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which is administered by DED. Johnson was awarded a CDBG in the amount of $25,000 in the planning category by Governor Mike Johanns. This grant was matched with $8,400 in local funds.

The results of the Johnson Downtown Revitalization Plan indicated a deteriorating infrastructure, reduced aesthetic state, and lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The study recommended replacing sections of sidewalks, curbs, curb walls, and streets. To bring the downtown into compliance with ADA regulations, widened sidewalks and walkway ramps were recommended. Other recommendations included replacing the main and service water lines to individual businesses and conducting a future, more inclusive study of the sanitary sewer system. A final recommendation was to enhance the aesthetic through the installation of ornamental light poles, fences, railings, and furnishing. The downtown also would be beautified with the renovation of the flagpole and brick planter, which is centrally located in a main intersection.

With plan in hand, the Village of Johnson was eager to start renovations. To carry out the recommendations provided, Johnson looked for funding sources. Again, they turned to DED and applied for CDBG funding. Governor Mike Johanns awarded Johnson $249,700 in CDBG funds in the public works category. Along with the CDBG funds, the project will be funded by $234,700 in local funds through local bonds, business improvement district assessments, and in-kind donations. The CDBG award will fund the renovation of walkways, retaining walls, streets, surface drainage, water mains, and service lines.

Johnson is well on its way to mending its broken heart. Renovations began in June 2003, and completion is expected in late October 2003. The downtown revitalization “will benefit the whole community from residents to businesses,” said Bruggeman. “Johnson, a very strong and active community, will become much more attractive and people will want to shop in the downtown,” said Bruggeman.

Contact Information

Johnson Downtown Revitalization
(402) 868-5305

Southeast Nebraska Development District (Partner)
2631 “O” Street
Lincoln, NE 68510
(402) 475-2560

Rick Zubrod (DED Representative)
(402) 471-3762   •   (800) 426-6505