Drive along Brooklyn Boulevard in Brooklyn Park, and you’ll pass a typical sprawling parking lot for a shopping center. But look a little closer, and you’ll see something different about the green strip bordering the road. Amidst the typical turfgrass, cheerful clumps of native grasses and flowers beckon visitors, plantings arranged in gently curving beds around the perimeter of the new Brooklyn Park Small Business Center.
Recently opened this summer, the small business incubator offers low-cost office space options for small businesses and was designed to be not just a space but an experience that facilitates collaboration, innovation, and growth. For this reason, the Brooklyn Park City Council desired landscaping for the business center that would reflect its welcoming atmosphere.
“City council members felt that a professionally-installed landscape design would enhance the value and aesthetics of the center,” says John Kinara, Housing and Redevelopment Coordinator for the City of Brooklyn Park. “The business center is beautiful on the inside, and we wanted that beauty to be replicated outside.”
This was also an opportunity to put in green stormwater management practices. Metro Blooms has partnered with rental communities in the city to put in these practices, working with residents to install and maintain pollinator and rain gardens where they live. These practices have become more popular not only for their looks but for the benefits they provide to water quality and pollinators. “When residents get to know the value of [these plantings] and why we need to install stormwater management, they tell their neighbors, and that spreads excitement in the community,” Kinara says.
For the Small Business Center, Metro Blooms was able to hire some of the residents we previously collaborated with who had expressed interest in working with us on short-term landscaping projects. This ensured that some of the investment went back into the local economy — benefiting people who lived there directly.
From Vision to Reality
Completing a commercial project is different from a residential project in many ways. With multiple stakeholders involved, it can take longer to finalize the design. The entire review process took about 6 months over the winter, shares Jennifer Ehlert, Vice President of Metro Blooms Design+Build and designer for the Brooklyn Park Small Business Center plantings.