A concept rendering shows the south side of a new five-story Boatworks building. The redevelopment idea was recently brought to the Wayzata Planning Commission, which voted unanimously to recommend the denial of the project. The redevelopment proposal is expected to come before the city council in July. (Submitted image by Cuningham Group)

Proposal expected to come before the city council in July

The Wayzata Planning Commission voted unanimously June 3 to recommend the denial of approvals for a proposed redevelopment project for the Boatworks building.

Rick Born, the owner of the two-story Boatworks building at 294 Grove Lane E., is proposing to redevelop the property into a five-story building with 33 condos, nearly 69,000 square feet of office space, a restaurant and a three-level parking structure.

Included in the proposal brought to the planning commission was a request for three text amendments to the city’s development code: To allow for the approval of a building in a three-acre planned unit development district with no setbacks from the property lines, to allow for the approval of a building in a three-acre PUD district that is more than three stories in height and to allow for the approval of rooftop equipment with screening.

The Boatworks is the largest commercial building in Wayzata south of the railroad tracks and is between two public spaces: Wayzata Beach and Depot Park.

The building is on the site of the original Moore Johnson Boat Works, a boat-building business that was operated by early Wayzata settler Royal C. Moore. The boat factory burned in 1892 and the building was rebuilt in 1940, with several remodeling projects taking place over the years.

Today, the building houses office space, including Born’s RBA Consulting, as well as Wayzata Brew Works and 6Smith restaurant.


The lake side of the existing Boatworks building. (Sun Sailor file photo by Jason Jenkins)

Developers of the Boatworks project contend that the redeveloped site would add and better re-position parking while creating better connectivity for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists and create better access to the neighboring public beach. They also see the redevelopment concept as in alignment with the city’s Lake Effect initiative, which aims to create, connect and enhance public space along the lakefront.

At the meeting, Born said the economics of the site make it necessary for the density and height of the proposed building. A concept plan for a four-story building was proposed in September of last year, but the designs were reworked and an updated five-story proposal was shown to the city at a workshop meeting in April.

“It was a matter of square footage,” Born said.

The planning commission ultimately recommended the denial of the proposed text amendments, along with a recommendation for the city council to deny approval of a shoreland impact plan and a conditional use permit.

The height of the proposed project found opposition from members of the commission, as well as three developers in the process of constructing buildings nearby on Lake Street.

One of the developers who spoke at the meeting was Brad Hoyt, owner of a site that is scheduled to be developed into the three-story Ventana Condos development.

“My opposition to this application is universal,” Hoyt said, reminding the commission that five years ago his proposal for a five-story apartment building on Lake Street was denied over height. Hoyt sued the city over the decision, but he lost in court.

Also speaking at the meeting was David Carlson, who is part of the development team for the three-story mixed-use Wayzata Blu condo development. He said a five-story Boatworks building would block views of the lake for his condo owners.

“The benefit and the profit to the developer would be at the expense of our buyers,” Carlson said, adding that it be unfair to him and the other developers who have adhered to the city’s building height restrictions.

Several residents also voiced their opposition to the proposed building.

“It’s a lovely building, it’s well designed. There’s much to commend, but it’s in a terrible location. ... It’s too high,” said Mary Bader, a member of the city’s parks and trails board and a former city council member.

Before the commission’s vote, planning commission members voiced their opinions, many of which had to do with the height and density of the proposed building.

“The scale of the building is just too large,” said Commissioner Cathy Iverson.

Commission member Lindsey Bashioum said she commended Born and his team for a wonderful design, but said she struggled with the height.

Commissioner Jeffrey Parkhill said he too was worried about the density and scale of the proposed building, as well as the precedent that would be set if the text amendments were allowed.

“I don’t see the public benefit yet enough to make the text changes to the zoning law. … It would have to be something that would be enormously beneficial I think to go back and revisit that,” Parkhill said.

According to Wayzata City Manager Jeffrey Dahl, the redevelopment proposal is expected to come before the city council at its July 2 meeting at the earliest.


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