Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Proposed Snelling development west of stadium is further refined

Posted on 08 October 2018 by Calvin

Five-story development could house 18,000-sq-ft of retail, and about 200 residential units, 200 parking spaces

Wellington Management’s hope to build a five-story mixed-use development west of the Allianz Field Major League Soccer stadium needs support from Union Park District Council (UPDC) and city officials, if the project is to expand to its full potential. The council’s land use committee is expected to vote as soon as Oct. 15 on a support request to purchase state-owned property.

Wellington wants to demolish the current Bremer Bank at 427 N. Snelling Ave. The site would be redeveloped with a new bank branch and Walgreens store on the first floor, and four stories of housing above. The first-floor retail space would be about 18,000-sq-ft that could house Walgreens and the bank, or the bank and up to three smaller tenants. The development would have about 200 housing units, with a mix of micro-unit/studios, one and two-bedroom units.

The St. Paul-based developer would like to purchase Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)-owned land south of the bank. David Wellington, director of acquisitions and development for Wellington Management, told the district council land use committee in September some of the state property could be used for the new building. Some land could provide green space for residents and the surrounding community.

But acquiring the land means going through a state process. One option is for the city Department of Planning and Economic Development to work with the state on a land sale. That’s been done in several neighborhoods over the years.

Another way is to see if MnDOT would put the property up for sale on its own. The latter method has its risks as Wellington could get outbid by another developer.

A letter of support from the district council would be helpful, Wellington said. Land use committee members said while they’d be interested in supporting the land sale, they want more details.

The property was cleared in the 1960s when Interstate 94 was built and has been vacant since then. Various neighborhood visioning processes have come up with ideas for the property, which is sometimes occupied by people who are homeless. Ideas have included a park and active space.

Wellington said the project would be the first market-rate housing project near Green Line light rail in the area east of Fairview Ave. All other housing built on or near the light rail line in the past few years east of Fairview has been affordable housing.

About 200 parking spaces for residents and customers would be underground and on the first floor.
The first floor, which would be 18 feet in height, would have at-grade parking and a small parking deck.

The development has been through a number of iterations since a July presentation to the committee, including expansion to Roy St., said Wellington. Plans are now focused on Snelling Ave. between Shields and St. Anthony avenues. But that will take land acquisition. The development, which if it is to break ground next year, is at a point where it will need a decision soon on the state land acquisition.

The Snelling property eyed for redevelopment is zoned for traditional neighborhoods three use, which would allow five stories. Additional height could be granted through a conditional use permit process. With a taller first story, a permit might be needed. The need for a permit won’t be known until more detailed plans are developed.

Initially, Wellington and officials from the adjacent Central Baptist Church looked at demolishing two church-owned homes on Roy to develop a shared parking structure for the church and new development. The two houses are south of the church.

Three other Roy St. homeowners then expressed interest in selling their properties. Expanding the development west to Roy was considered, said Wellington. Making a larger project work financially would mean adding more height, which the developers aren’t comfortable with.

“We don’t want to bring commercial corridor massing into a single-family residential neighborhood,” Wellington said. Another issue is that of generating more traffic into the neighborhood west of the development.

The latest plan calls for using Snelling Ave. properties only, and not tearing down the church-owned homes.

The development team is also working on traffic flow west of the building. There is a north-south alley between Snelling and Roy, with an east-west extension to Roy about mid-block. Wellington Management met with the UPDC Transportation committee Sept. 10 to discuss traffic issues and the number of egress points for the new development. Both the bank and Walgreens wish to have drive-through windows. There’s also a need for separate resident and commercial parking access.

Most neighborhood reaction to the development proposal has been positive, said UPDC Board and land use committee member David Rasmussen. He lives near the development. Wellington Management has held meetings with neighbors to discuss their plans.


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