|A big ol' brownfield|
|Stop messing 'round with your tricks|
The company chosen to oversee one of the biggest developments in the state is asking the suburb of Arden Hills to move its City Hall onto the site and to approve residential buildings as high as 12 stories.I'm having a tough time imagining the market for a 12-story building in Arden Hills, but who knows?
Developer Bob Lux of Alatus LLC on Monday outlined the company’s vision for a town center on hundreds of acres at the site of the old Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant.
Lux and his colleagues outlined a project whose town center would resemble Santana Row, the celebrated Parisian-style development in San Jose, Calif., with waterfront amenities recalling the band shell area on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.I suppose they could -- Highway 96 is a nice road that's been rebuilt over the past decade, but I'm not certain they will. But we'll leave that aside:
Another model for a town center featuring movie theaters and restaurants would be St. Louis Park’s West End.
“People from North Oaks and White Bear Lake would be coming here for entertainment and meals,” Lux said. “The people who designed West End are working for us and learned some lessons from it.”
The key to making the new project a walkable, pleasant environment, the developer stressed — rather than “seas of parking lots” — would be a mass grading of the entire property. That would allow for large stretches of underground parking below commercial and multifamily sites while creating fill to be used elsewhere.Walkable, but within easy driving distance. And there you have the conundrum. As anyone who has traveled in the area knows, the interchange between 694 and 35W is one of the most notorious bottlenecks in the Twin Cities. We're seeing a great deal of road construction now, especially on 694, which will help matters, but it's still tough driving around here. I suspect people might come out here, but unless the traffic flow improves dramatically, I'm skeptical about getting repeat business. And I'd be curious to see what the market is for apartments or condominiums in a multi-story building in a suburban area. Land is at a severe premium in a place like San Jose; not so much here.
“You would have no competition almost anywhere in the metro area,” he said, adding that the site is within easy driving distance of both big downtowns.
Negotiations, in effect, over the height of buildings began almost at once: It has long been clear that where Ramsey County is comfortable with an urban village, Arden Hills prefers something more suburban.
Asked what he can make work, Lux said that financially speaking, “eight stories would be the minimum” for some town-center areas. “I know it works with 12; if capped, 10 to 12 I know could work, I’d probably say 10. Tour some projects with me and I think you’ll be more comfortable with the height.”
I'm going to be watching this closely, because whatever happens in Arden Hills will greatly affect its neighbors.