The Minnetonka City Council voted against items related to the Kinsel at Glen Lake project put forward by Ron Clark Construction. Multiple items that were required for the project to move ahead were voted down by the council, 5-1, at the regular meeting on Aug. 5. Councilmember Rebecca Schack cast the lone dissenting vote.
“This is a dense building at a time when I think we should be stepping down from the exchange building, not stepping up from a density perspective,” Mayor Brad Wiersum said. “I’m not saying ‘no forever’ to this building even, but I am going to say ‘no’ tonight because we either have to fix some things or we need a smaller building. There are just too many things that didn’t go our way to make this project workable today.“
The reasons the council members gave for their rejection included concerns surrounding pedestrian and vehicle safety, increasing density in the Glen Lake area and adequacy of green space.
Glen Lake area residents expressed similar concerns during the public hearing session of the discussion. Those who spoke felt it was no longer safe to walk on Stuart Lane and the Kinsel would only increase the traffic. The council members recognized their concerns and reiterated that point in their discussion.
“My concerns are that we have added so much density to the Glen Lake area and some of the residents are having trouble absorbing it so quickly,” Councilmember Deb Calvert said. “I have concerns about the traffic as well. I do think that we have to work hard and really address those concerns and issues on that very narrow street and make sure that everyone not only is safe but they also their perception of safety is as strong as the actual safety that’s there.”
City staff members noted that the redevelopment in the Glen Lake area has led to similar housing units to the Kinsel and that the building would be a good fit for the area.
“We thought this was a reasonable and attractive project for Glen Lake, it was consistent the character of Glen Lake,” said Loren Gordon, the city planner. “We felt for the ability to integrate within the area from that character and a traffic standpoint certainly wasn’t going to be detrimental.”
Staff members had reviewed the traffic impact of the Kinsel project and noted there would be an increase in traffic in the area, but not a significant increase.
“We had our traffic consultant review this pretty closely because we understand that these are concerns when these types of things come in. There is about a two-second delay, that is about 400 new trips, but when you start breaking down those numbers, the peak hours that you would see the most traffic, this adds about roughly 20 vehicle difference,” said Will Manchester, the city public works director. “This does change it slightly, but from our perspective, it is not a huge change in the hourly numbers.
Staff members also noted that a sidewalk would be built along the length of the project area and would be located along Excelsior Boulevard and Stewart Lane.
“The sidewalk would certainly help with the pedestrians,” Manchester said. “There would be a new sidewalk in this area and it would be for folks to use and stay off the road, which doesn’t exist today, so that is definitely an improvement as well.”
The Kinsel at Glen Lake was designed as a three-story, 58 unit apartment building at 14317 Excelsior Blvd. The units include studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Amenities would have included a clubroom, a lounge, a roof deck and a workout facility. The plan showed a total of 63 parking spaces located underneath the building, along with 22 visitor parking spaces in front of the building. Access to both parking areas would have been off of Stewart Lane.