The Edina City Council gave final approval for the redevelopment proposal on Market Street, including a six-story residential building, a public plaza and, if all goes according to plan, major revitalization.
“This is the most consequential thing that has happened at 50th and France since those ramps were built in the 70’s,” Mayor Jim Hovland said.
The project would be the newest iteration of the ever-evolving district that was once a few shops with streetcars, later cultivated to be a shopping, dining and entertainment hub of Edina.
During the June 20 regular meeting, the council discussed and passed resolutions over a zoning amendment and establishing the 50th and France 2 Tax Increment Financing District necessary for the project.
Economic Development Director Bill Neuendorf explained that when the center ramp was first opened in 1976, the $3.5 million dollar investment (roughly $15 million in today’s dollars) was financed with Edina’s first TIF district.
“We used TIF to pay for 80 percent of the costs and assessed the remaining to business owners,” Neuendorf said. “That was the agreeable solution 30 years ago. A few years back in 2014, we made a major renovation to parking structures. We heard loud and clear that [50th and France businesses] cannot handle another special assessment at this time.”
And thus, the new TIF district was born.
Neuendorf explained the original tax capacity of the area in the TIF is around $15,000, but automatically after passage would more than triple to roughly $72,000.
The estimated tax capacity after the project is completed would be an increase by at least a factor of 10, reaching $1.5 or $1.6 million.
“That is exactly what you want a TIF district to do,” Neuendorf said.
It is estimated that close to $29 million in taxes will be collected from the district for the next 26 years to be used for land acquisition, site preparation, utilities and other improvements.
During the special HRA and city council meeting on June 27, Neuendorf said that he viewed the redevelopment as really two distinct projects, different from what was thought months ago.
The first is the expansion of the north parking ramp, which will add a fourth parking level and parking on adjacent vacant lots as well as 10,000 square feet of commercial space. It is estimated to cost $10.7 million, which is essentially the city’s cut of the deal.
“If the city and the HRA just did our piece and the developer didn’t, we would not be successful … and vice versa,” Neuendorf said.
The second project is the construction of the mixed use structure, which is the developer’s portion of the redevelopment.
The demolishing of the existing center ramp, addition of the six-story, 110-unit apartment building, 25,000 square feet of commercial space and new public plaza has a price tag of just under $75 million.
Construction is set to take place in two stages, beginning with the expansion of the north parking ramp from January through September 2018. Construction of the retail and residential building will begin in April 2018, with completion scheduled for summer 2019.
The goal is to disrupt the fewest number of parking spaces at a time, with an eye for the holiday shopping season as the benchmark for needed stalls.
At completion, public stalls will be expanded from 262 to 573.
During the public hearing, Klaus Freyinger, who is a property manager at one of the corners of 50th and France, wished to see some changes in the project.
“[50th and France] is a bit like out of a Norman Rockwell painting,” Freyinger said. “Everyone likes the city for what [50th and France] is. Does it need to be to the tune of a six-story building?”
Mary Brindley, another business owner, questioned what how parking spaces would affect future business, as well as for employees.
“‘If there is a space in front of your store, I am going to stop.’ I hear that every day,” Brindley said.
Another issue, which had been brought up at previous meetings, was about cut-through traffic.
Neuendorf said that the city had hired consultants to look at traffic at the main intersection and as well cut-through traffic.
“The challenge is minimizing it and controlling, especially during construction phase,” Neuendorf said. “Some of the simple solutions can be temporary speed bumps — a nuisance to everybody, but that can be an effective way to stop people from cutting through.”
The council weighed several resolutions as the HRA and council, including the sale of land to Market Street LLC and for the north ramp expansion, all of which passed unanimously.
“What I hope people realize … is we get how important this is to all of us,” Councilmember Kevin Staunton said. “It is a real iconic part of our community. and has been for at least 50 years, if not 80. The envy of other cities over 50th and France is palpable.”
Staunton explained that 50th and France has changed every 15 to 20 years, but has grown with the partnership of the city.
“It was idle property for a long, long time that just remains idle,” Councilmember Bob Stewart said of the Market Street redevelopment. “Those things nag at me … it is a resource, an asset that ought to be used by somebody for something. I’m glad that we are going to put that to use. The old 49th and a half street felt like Death Valley … not a place one would linger if they could help it – and right adjacent to Edina’s crown jewel.”
Contact Ethan Groothuis at [email protected]