Jul 30, 2014

Planners Put the Pieces Together to Save Shady Oak Road Businesses

City leaders are searching for a way to help businesses because of a road project that would make it impossible to do business on some properties.

Planners Put the Pieces Together to Save Shady Oak Road Businesses

After considering three or four possibilities, planners are zeroing in on a redevelopment plan for businesses hurt by the Shady Oak Road expansion project.

City leaders have been searching for a way to help businesses ever since word came down that the road would be narrower than expected. That would bring the road within a few feet of some Shady Oak businesses—just enough to remove essential parking without giving them the money that would have helped property owners move.

At Tuesday’s City Council work session, Kersten Elverum, the city’s director of economic development and planning, called the search for a way around this a “project within a project.”

The entities are still a ways away from a firm plan—and the affected property owners would have to agree to any recommendation for it to move forward.

But the most-promising proposal would use $3 million in “community works” money to buy two properties, demolish some of the buildings to open up room for parking and rearrange the tenants according to the following two-phase plan:

Phase One

  • The city or county would acquire the Leaman’s Liquor property (shown in blue in the Google map above) using community works money.
  • That building would be demolished and another built in its place.
  • After the road expansion, the property is big enough so that a one-story building could be up to 6,500 square feet. That’s big enough for to move into the building from its present location in the Dorholt building (shown in yellow).

Phase Two

  • The city or county would acquire the Dorholt property—a site whose building was originally built as two separate structures. Under the city plan, the northern half (shown in green) would be demolished.
  • Because currently occupies that half of the building, community works money could provide relocation assistance to help the business find a new site. The amount of money available would depend on other expenses. 
  • As mentioned above, Snap Print would move to the new building on the Leaman’s Liquor site (shown in blue).
  • Whoever purchased the Dorholt property—either the city or the county—would renovate the remaining half (shown in yellow) so that it would be a stand-alone structure again. The Dorholt site would then be traded to Syndicate Sales for its property (shown in red), and Syndicate Sales would move into the renovated building.
  • The Syndicate sales building would then be demolished.

The redevelopment, though, is driven by the road expansion. At Tuesday’s meeting, Hennepin County planners presented the first details since at which neighbors vented frustrations.

“It’s been interesting and complicated and—like I said, it really gets people where they live—so often emotional,” Elverum said.

The road plan has seen modest changes since the public meeting—including some pedestrian improvements that came about because of resident comments.

But Councilwoman Cheryl Youakim wasn’t pleased when county representatives said they didn’t know if some of the most-affected homeowners were at information meetings and hadn’t met in person with one of them.

Yet residents who think the road shouldn’t be expanded at all are almost certainly going to be disappointed. Even with a small dip in volume in recent years, the traffic is still heavy enough to justify a bigger road, county planners said, adding that the volume is going to grow when the Southwest Light Rail Transit line comes in.

Said Hopkins Public Works Director Steve Stadler: “It can’t be a local roadway. It’s more for the travelling public and regional travel.”

Preliminary plans are set to go before the Hopkins City Council for approval Tuesday. That approval is merely intended to signal that the city is OK with the overall footprint. It is not a financial commitment, and details could change with final planning.

Minnetonka is scheduled to consider the preliminary plans March 26.



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