Re-developments proposed for 42, 13 and Diffley
Redevelopment plans for two prominent corners in Burnsville met mixed reactions from City Council members at a work session Tuesday.
They encouraged plans to raze the Cub Foods store at county roads 42 and 5 and build a new Cub, along with other retail buildings and possibly apartments.
But council members rebuffed a request for public money to help fund a project at Highway 13 and Diffley Road, where an abandoned gas station and car wash and partly occupied strip mall have been regarded as eyesores for years.
Council members frowned on developer Par-10 Cos.’ plan to raze the station and car wash, replace them with a drive-thru coffee shop but leave the strip mall standing with upgrades.
The developer sought assistance from the Dakota County Environmental Legacy fund, a grant program for Dakota County cities with landfills. Burnsville has access to $1.1 million in ELF funds that can be used for land acquisition, environmental cleanup and soil remediation.
The developer was requesting the full amount, said a city staff report. But the project was an unlikely candidate under the city’s policy for granting economic development assistance, said Assistant Community Development Director Regina Dean.
“We do speak to jobs (created), we do speak to increasing the tax base, and additional criteria that I believe this proposal would have a difficult time meeting,” she said.
Leaving the strip mall standing would not be the “highest and best use of the ELF grant,” said Council Member Vince Workman. The mall, called the Riverview Shopping Center, was built in 1965. The Mr. B’s gas station and car wash that abuts 13 and Diffley was built in 1960.
“I’d like to see the whole corner come down and be redeveloped,” said Workman, whose family insurance business used to rent space in the strip mall. “That mall has aged, and I think there’s more going on internally than maybe the developer realizes, maybe not. I am not in support of using and ELF grant for this particular project.”
“This has been a target site for the council for years,” Council Member Dan Gustafson said. “It’s been one of our priority economic development areas.”
Mayor Elizabeth Kautz called for a mixed-use development with housing and commercial. She said some residents from the North River Hills and Cedarbridge neighborhoods were in the council chambers to show support for rejecting the plan.
“I really thank the neighborhood for coming, because you have been concerned about this property for many, many years,” Kautz said.
Developer representative Jerry Trooien took issue with council members’ comments.
“We can all say we wish this and we wish that, but what is it that meets the test of being able to be done?” he asked.
Trooien said renovating the strip mall facade with new glass and surfaces would make it look “classy” and attract tenants to the high-traffic property.
Apartments would be “a real tough deal,” Trooien said.
“I’ve heard there’s a tremendous amount of absorption problems in all the new units down by the outlet mall” along Highway 13 in Eagan, he said.
This is the second time this year the council has rejected public financing for a 13 and Diffley redevelopment project. In January the council rebuffed a request from Roers Cos. for a $3 million package that would have included ELF money and tax-increment financing. Roers proposed a 155-unit apartment building. Council members said they supported ELF funding, but the city doesn’t grant TIF assistance for housing.
The Sterling Organization, which owns the 16.5-acre Cub Foods property at 1800 County Road 42 W., wants to replace the existing store with a new 80,000-square-foot Cub store and attached 8,600-square-foot liquor store.
Sterling is eying two development scenarios for the property bounded by County Road 42, County Road 5, McAndrews Road and Irving Avenue.
One would add seven retail buildings in addition to the new Cub. The other would add four retail buildings, along with two apartment buildings totaling 200 to 240 units.
“From what we’ve heard, they’re open to either plan, but really wanted to hear from our council to see what you thought,” Dean said.
Most council members said they prefer apartments mixed with retail.
“I could vote for either one of these projects,” Gustafson said. “I would prefer the mixed-use project with the apartments and all that.”
The property is on the western end of Burnsville’s Center Village area — the area around Burnsville Center identified for mixed-use redevelopment.
Apartments would help “kick off our vision of that by getting residential into that area,” Workman said.
Council Member Cara Schulz said she wouldn’t offer an opinion because it’s up to the landowner.