Council members want more substantial park

Eagan City Council members wanted to keep the land south of Skyline Displays as parklike as possible even as a new senior housing development moves in.

A measure was tabled during Monday’s meeting on a new senior housing development until Oct. 16 to allow city staff and the developers to put together a more substantial pocket park on the southern part of the property.

The land is currently undeveloped.

A majority of the Eagan City Council otherwise seemed supportive of plans for a four-story, 173-acre senior care facility on about 8 acres of land northeast of the intersection of Lexington Avenue and Yankee Doodle Road.

It would be built just south of Skyline Displays and west of Faithful Shepherd Catholic School.

Initial plans include a walking trail and park benches, but Council Member Cyndee Fields strongly suggested additional park features.

Council Member Paul Bakken said it is one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the city and he would also like to see additional park space at the location.

Both council members said they felt they made a commitment years ago when Skyline Displays approved to preserve as much green space as possible.

They suggested taking a gazebo on another part of the property and moving it to the pocket park.

The project also has $600,000 in park dedication fees, so members suggested taking funds from the account to add more features to the park.

Mayor Mike Maguire wanted to make sure the public felt comfortable in using the park as well.

Developers seemed agreeable to the plan.

Plans include 48 memory care units, 33 assisted living units and 92 independent living units to allow residents to “age in place,” according to developers.

The blueprints also detail a fitness center, salon, pub, movie theater, two-story dining room, patio, community room and club room with a rooftop deck.

There could also be a preschool on the lower level with enough space to accommodate 34 students.

Adding a preschool to a senior living facility would allow for intergenerational programing between the seniors and the children.

It would be similar to the All Seasons Preschool located in the lower level of Southview’s Inver Glen building, located in Inver Grove Heights.

Developers believe there is a strong market for senior housing in the area.

Southview Senior Living is the same developer that built Eagan Pointe Senior Living at 4232 Blackhawk Road.

During an Advisory Planning Commission meeting last month, Lance Lemieux, president of Southview Senior Living, said Eagan Pointe Senior Living is at 100 percent capacity and they have a 100-person waiting list for their independent living units.

They believe the market for the development will remain strong for years and have no plans to eventually turn it into apartments.

Bakken admitted he still wasn’t 100 percent behind the project during Monday’s meeting. He said he was not supportive of switching from a “more productive” business park to high density residential from a tax base perspective.

“There are compelling and valid reasons to make that switch, but as somebody who looks at the long-term fiscal health of our community and how these incremental decisions add up over a decade,” Bakken said, “coming at this fresh I wasn’t supportive of this switch.”

He said he would feel better if there were a bigger park amenity.

“We as a council made a promise to the residents of the area when Skyline came in,” Bakken said.

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