Will provide access to Buck Hill Road, Burnsville Center, CR 42 

A new southbound exit ramp from Interstate 35W to Buck Hill Road and County Road 42 in Burnsville could boost redevelopment prospects for the Burnsville Center retail area.

Last month the Minnesota Department of Transportation awarded the city $3.1 million for the $5 million project. Burnsville was one of eight Minnesota cities and counties receiving $18 million through a competitive grant program for transportation projects that promote economic development.

Though construction isn’t planned until 2025, the ramp has caught the attention of Seritage Growth Properties — which owns Burnsville Center’s long-vacant Sears space and its vast parking lot — and other potential developers of parts of the mall property, according to City Engineer Jen Desrude.

“The intent is that it’s going to support economic development,” she said. “We do think it will kind of spur Seritage into doing more with their site, and we’ve already heard from some other developers who are interested in the (Burnsville Center) site as well.”

The city’s Center Village Redevelopment Vision for the mall-anchored retail area north and south of County Road 42 envisions a repurposed mall, and new neighborhoods and housing mixed with retail uses — including existing big-box stores — and other uses such as parks, hotels, clinics, co-sharing work places, start-up offices, brew pubs and maker spaces.

The Legislature has granted the city tax-increment financing authority for the area to raise money for development incentives and infrastructure. The city has identified up to $31 million in projects, including the extension of Aldrich Avenue, new streets and a County Road 42 pedestrian bridge and underpass.

The owner of half the mall property has subdivided it into nine new lots and one new outlot for sale to developers. Kohan Retail Investment Group, which bought the property at auction for a deeply discounted $17 million in fall 2020, has said it wants to unload outparcels “so that we can pay back our investors and the bank and then inject all remaining funds back into the Burnsville Mall site.”

The new ramp evolved from the Burnsville Center visioning process and Dakota County’s nearly completed study of future County Road 42 needs, Desrude said.

It will give exiting motorists direct access to Buck Hill Road and the mall without going through traffic lights, she said. Instead, there will be a roundabout. Motorists will also have an eastbound 42 option. The ramp and roundabout will be at freeway level, crossing under 42.

Officials will consult with Seritage and mall owners on the design and location of the roundabout to best fit their redevelopment plans, she said.

In the city’s grant application, traffic engineers estimated that about 80% of the 17,000 southbound vehicles that exit daily at County Road 42 will take the new ramp to go either to Buck Hill Road or east on 42, according to Desrude.

That will improve traffic flow on 42 and reduce the number of vehicle “conflict” points from 19 to six, with likely crash reductions, she said.

The city and county plan to split project costs not covered by the grant from MnDOT’s Transportation Economic Development program, Desrude said.

“We think it’s going to be a great project and a good opportunity for Burnsville,” she said.

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