Site would be Eagle Brook Church’s eighth permanent campus

Apple Valley could become the latest campus location for a large Twin Cities area church looking to occupy the former Menards space.

Eagle Brook Church is proposing to move into the former Apple Valley Menards building at 14960 Florence Trail, which sits on a 13.86-acre property at the northwest corner of Florence Trail and Flagstaff Avenue. If approved, the site would be the church’s eighth permanent campus.

The Apple Valley Planning Commission heard about the church’s interest in occupying the space during a public hearing April 21. The Planning Commission did not take action on the proposal, which is typical when a public hearing is held.

According to an April 21 city report, the church would remove half of the existing building and add parking in the former Menards outdoor area north of the building. No detailed plan had been submitted at the time of the meeting.

Menards constructed a new store building at 6055 150th St. W. in Apple Valley and moved to that location in fall 2020. The company built the store at 14960 Florence Trail in 1999. Dakota County property records indicate that store is 161,521 square feet.

The church and Menard Inc. are seeking an amendment to the comprehensive plan land use map to redesignate the 13.86 acres from commercial and institutional and a zoning amendment to add church to the list of permitted uses for the site.

Steph Hauber, Eagle Brook Church expansion director, said the church started in a living room in 1948 and grew, first starting in its White Bear Lake campus. Further growth led to building a second location in Lino Lakes.

The church has five other permanent campuses in Anoka, Blaine, Ham Lake, Spring Lake Park and Woodbury. There are also mobile sites at Lakeville South High School in Lakeville, Rochester and Wayzata.

Eagle Brook cares deeply about the communities it serves, Hauber said.

“We like to build that attender base. We like to build the relationships with the people that are in the communities, as well, and that transformation matters to us; people matter to us. Our mission matters to us,” she said. “The reason we do our mission is because we care about the people that live in those communities. And we so strongly believe that if one person’s life is changed, we think their friends and their families’ lives are changed, which, as a result, communities are also changed.”

Traffic impacts and accessing the property with a church were the subject of most of the Planning Commission members’ questions.

City Planner Tom Lovelace said city staff have some concerns about how traffic movements with the proposed project would affect neighboring businesses.

The project petitioners are being required to have a traffic study done. The city of Lakeville has requested the results of the study when it’s complete to understand how traffic on Flagstaff could be affected south of 160th Street. The study will help Apple Valley city staff begin discussions with the project petitioners about access points, traffic distribution and opportunities to alleviate the existing problems, Lovelace said.

No community members attending the meeting in person or virtually commented during the public hearing. Lovelace read written comments submitted by one resident, who said she believed the site would be better used as a homeless shelter or for low income housing.

Hauber said the church is committed to working with the city to find a win-win solution for all parties.

When asked if the Lakeville South location would close if the Apple Valley project is approved, Hauber said the intent would be to shift those operations to the Apple Valley campus and close Lakeville.

Patty Dexter can be reached at patty.dexter@apgecm.com.

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