Redesigned medical plaza in Edina given thumbs up

A medical building vetoed by the Edina City Council in July received a warmer reception the second time.

Council members noted that the redesigned building was an improvement over what was originally presented to the council and were supportive of the redesign. The council voted 3-2 against the original design presented to the council in July.

The redesign of the proposed Edina Medical Plaza presented to the council on Tuesday, Sept. 4, was a sketch plan and still needs to go through the formal approval process. After the council’s positive reception of the new design, the developers plan to submit it to the Edina Planning Commission and then the city council for formal approval.

The redesigned building, planned for the corner of West 65th Street and France Avenue is five stories rather than six, 62-feet tall instead of 88 feet, and has a five-level parking ramp attached to the building instead of detached. A green roof was added to the design, as well as a rounded corner of the building to allow for an outdoor plaza with tables at the corner of the intersection, according to Steve Michals of Mount Development Company. The lights on the top of the parking ramp were lowered to eliminate light shining into the adjacent housing complexes.

Michaels said they feel they have “substantially enhanced” the design of the building since the July meeting and feel that the redesigned plaza would enhance the regional medical district that already exists in the area.

The new design also adds an access point for pedestrians off of France Avenue. Councilmember Josh Sprague said he would like crosswalks to be added to the intersection of West 65th Street and France Avenue to allow pedestrians to safely cross between the proposed medical plaza and Fairview Southdale Hospital.

Councilmember Mary Brindle said she hears from doctors that they prefer to cross France Avenue rather than use the skyway or tunnel systems to get to Fairview Southdale. Access needs to be provided on the street level, she said.

Michals noted that the Edina Medical Plaza would be a traditional clinic where medical staff could lease the building and it would be rare that a patient would be sent directly from the medical plaza across the street to the hospital.

They would like to add a skyway between the proposed Edina Medical Plaza and Fairview Southdale Hospital across the street, but building a skyway is expensive, Michals said. The need of the medical staff would determine if a skyway is needed, he added.

At issue in July was the need to amend the Edina Comprehensive Plan to allow for the proposed building’s height. The plan limits buildings to four stories or 48 feet on the site. In the redesign, they brought the building as low as they could, Michals said.

Councilmember Joni Bennett said the only remaining issue for her is the difference between the proposed building’s height and the single-family homes nearby.

“I find it hard to comprehend changing the comprehensive plan,” she said.