Public Hearing: Rezoning at 6600- 6800 France Ave. (Commons on France), Southdale Office Center

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This proposal was withdrawn by the applicant.

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CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.
CLOSED: This will be on the City Council agenda January 20th. The final decision will be made at that time.

Is water quality (relating to water age) DOA? The Water Treatment Plant (WTP) appears to me to be a political football—or hot potato. Rejected at the Dublin site, and returned to Southdale. If I am remembering correctly, Southdale businesses have expressed concerns about the WTP. Wildamere is now proposing the WTP at 66-6800 France as a public benefit in a “give to get”, which, if approved, would eliminate any WTP concerns with the Southdale block businesses. Given these events, the current location seems to suggest that Cornelia has the lowest status on the political totem pole.
As the WTP is passed around, I can’t help but reflect upon the astonishing water age improvements in large swaths of the city, projected to occur if the WTP were to be located at the Dublin site.
At the CC 2-5-2019 meeting, there was some hesitation about the Dublin site. In recognition of the hesitation, Ross had suggested that Engineering could ‘cast a wider net’ to see if there might be a way to achieve the same water quality improvements without a WTP at Dublin. After discussion, the CC said ‘no’ to the net casting, and voted to continue forward with the next step in the process for the Dublin site.
A few months later, on 6-18-2019, the CC rejected the Dublin site. In the year and a half since then, to the best of my knowledge, the CC has not directed staff to ‘cast the wider net’. That is to say, I have not located anything in the meeting records. Wouldn’t it make sense to do this research in conjunction with a WTP discussion? In other words, a more comprehensive reexamination of the system?
1/13/2021 Roberta Castellano 4854 France Ave S

Roberta C over 1 year ago

My understanding is that the Water Treatment Plant will have chemical spaces that will be ventilated to the outside. Regardless of where the WTP is to be located, I would think that the CC could help to meet the good neighbor test if the neighbors could be assured that they would not be experiencing chemical vapors. I am quite certain that this is not like a homeowner throwing a third of a cup of bleach into the laundry, and yet, at this point, I have not found an explicit discussion about this matter, so I do not know what the implications of the chemical space ventilation might be.
1/13/2021 Roberta Castellano 4854 France Ave S

Roberta C over 1 year ago

One concern about the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) is the manner by which the City redirected focus from the Southdale site to 66-6800 France, especially given that it occurred in the wake of resident protest of the Dublin site. The City Council (CC) voted to discontinue the WTP at Dublin and return the WTP to Southdale on 6-18-2019.
At the 9-4-2019 CC Work Session meeting (CCWS) at 5:30pm, the Agenda included a WTP “Concept Validation” for the Southdale site.
At the 9-4-2019 CC Regular meeting (CC-Reg) at 7pm, an RFP for additional design services for the WTP Southdale Concept Validation was in the Consent Agenda.
However, during the CCWS, it was verbally stated that Wildamere was going to explore the possibility of the WTP at 66-6800 France, and Chad said he would pull the item from the CC-Reg Consent Agenda.
For the public, however, the WTP Southdale Concept Validation appeared on the CC-Reg Consent Agenda. During the CC-Reg, neither the CC nor the City Manager identified that the WTP Southdale Concept was being removed, or that it had been removed, from the Consent Agenda. For anyone who watched the CC-Reg then, or even if you watch it today and follow the Agenda, it appears that the CC actually approved the RFP for additional planning for the WTP Southdale Concept.
However, in the CC-Reg Minutes, the WTP Southdale Concept Validation line item was struck through, and there is no explanation as to why.
From there, roughly 8-9 months passed before the Cornelia neighbors learned that a WTP was being considered adjacent to Valley View Rd in the redevelopment plans for the 66-6800 block.
1/13/2021 Roberta Castellano 4854 France Ave S

Roberta C over 1 year ago

Bill and Kathy Fredell
6566 France Avenue South, #710
Edina, MN 55435

We have been following the proposals, discussions, and decisions relating to the 7100 and the 6600-6800 France Avenue Redevelopments. These comments relate primarily to the 6600-6800 Redevelopment Area Proposal.
During the January 5 online meeting surrounding this topic, we heard lengthy discussions relating to market forces and how the needed parking spaces are reflective of these factors. In addition, we heard that the constraints of the existing structures that will remain explain why new building designs are not optimal and why the Greater Southdale Development Plan (GSDP) concepts could not be respected and incorporated into the proposal. For these reasons, the Developer is asking the City Council to allow zoning variances to accommodate greater density and building heights. The Developer is also asking the Council to “forgive” adherence to several of the Greater Southdale Development Plan goals.
Why this proposal does not make sense.
Zoning requirements have been carefully developed to protect the long-term viability of Edina and, especially, to protect the living experience and neighborhoods. “Relaxing” the zoning ordinances for this development provides no discernable benefit for Edina nor its citizens. Creating large, tall buildings with solid walls of 520 feet along W. 66th Street and over 1500 above-ground parking stalls detract and add nothing positive to our community. Zoning requirements are particularly important for this development as it abuts two Edina residential neighborhoods as well as parkland used by many Edina citizens.
The proposal is present-oriented, not at all futuristic. With the advent of self-driving vehicles, home officing, and enhanced transportation systems, this development falls far short of addressing any of these probable trends. In addition, it does not address goals of the GSDP. The proposed development does not provide pedestrian-friendly areas, increase pedestrian walkability, nor does it provide for future links with the promenade -- all of which are key goals of the GSDP.
While we understand the developer’s desire to redesign this area to maximize profits, this should not be done at the expense of Edina residents by relaxing zoning ordinances and disregarding the GSDP goals.
We encourage the City Council to deny this proposal as currently designed.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter

Bill and Kathy Fredell over 1 year ago

We, Connie and George Weinman, have lived at 6566.France Ave S,Point of France, for nearly fourteen years. We owned a home in Edina for nine years prior to moving to POF. Let me list several items for your consideration: 1. Four years ago this property was owned by Mr. Dennis Doyle and his company Windamere. Since his disability the property has changed hands and is now owned, I understand, by Wildamere (note the subtle name change) and Olympus Ventures. Now I can understand why they may request TIF financing which means the owner/residents of Edina will be asked to help finance the project. 2. Mr. McIntosh presented a trefoil of intertwined circles representing three criteria that must be considered: Community’s Desires, Market Realities, and Economic Feasibility. During the presentation it became obvious that economic feasibility was their dominant concern. 3. Parking concerns was a driving factor for the developer. Mr. McIntosh indicated that 2,800 parking stalls would be needed for a major company to entertain an annual employee appreciation day. The requisite parking spaces for the proposed plan would require only 1,300 parking spaces. Adding the additional 1,500 parking spaces would raise the cost of the project by $27,000,000.00 to $33,000,000.00 using the low end/high end cost of 18-22K for a four or five level parking ramp(s) using the numbers Mr. McIntosh provided in his presentation. There are three ramps in the proposal. 4. A creative way to help manage this cost is to wrap the northern ramp with a five story wall of apartments which would face 66th Street. This would make it possible to provide the requisite affordable housing units. 5. Mr. McIntosh’s rational for proposing a thirteen story rental housing building was/is that there is a thirteen story residential building across the street. No mention was made of the iconic Point of France building which has 140 homes of condominium owners who have pride of ownership in their homes and have preserved and enhanced their POF homes and its exterior for forty five years. Contrast that with the need and desire to maintain and enhance a thirteen story rental property. What will it look like in forty five years? 6. Need we say anything about visual privacy for residents of apartment buildings and residents of POF? 7. And I still struggle with Mr. McIntosh’s response when responding to a question of why move the medical building from the northern end of the development near the M-Health Fairview Southdale Hospital and Medical Center to the southern end of the proposed development. He stated that it would make it more attractive for another medical system/provider to enter this market. Fairview Southdale has been a good neighbor for decades. 8. Mr. McIntosh, McGough Development, and HGA Architects have worked long and hard on this proposal. They are talented, skillful, and creative. Maybe the development of this project and parcel of sixteen acres of prime real estate in the City of Edina would best be served by demolishing all the buildings, rather than having to work around one building. The site could then be developed by stages that would maximize the developers’ creativity. 9. The North Face of Edina on France Avenue could become a showcase of pride for the City of Edina rather than settling for this proposal at this time. Thank you for your kind attention to this lengthy missive. -Entered by City Staff on behalf of Connie and George Weinman

Edinastaff over 1 year ago

Bill Bednarczyk, 6566 France Ave. S. #1004 - Point of France

1/12/21 RE: 6600-6800 Project
TO: Mayor Hovland, City Council Members:
I am in disbelief with the comments made at the January 5, 2021 public hearing by the developer, some City Council members and the Mayor regarding the design plans for 6600-6800.
Each of your comments, taken as a whole, is very worry some to me as a VOTER and resident of Edina. It is apparent that maintaining “happy” relationships with this developer, future developers, a quest to maximize tax base and density coupled with your propensity to grant variances are the guidelines in evaluating this project. It is also apparent, that the Point of France (“stack” of 145 resident homes) would be viewed differently if we were 145 rooftops. Some of you certainly saw “rooftops” when you rejected the Estelle project for similar concerns raised by the Cornelia neighbor. In my opinion, most of you see the Point of France as just another office building with 145 offices. Folks, real people live here!
Blowing off the Greater Southdale Design principles by debating 6600-6800’s status as redevelopment and not subject to those guidelines is just wrong on so many levels. It is like telling the recovering alcoholic that he/she can forego the twelve 12 steps because their drug of choice is now cocaine.
Of real concern is optics. By approving the project, it would appear you are bailing out an investment group that apparently did poor due diligence in assessing the economic feasibility before making the purchase. A low water table just didn’t appear after the purchase. Our community should not be saddled with the consequences of their investment decision. Their purchase decision sits squarely with them. The accountability stops with them and the developer. It is time for you folks to stand up for the well studied design principles, the neighborhood, the voters, and your community. Reject the project as proposed.
As you know, the planning commission with their staff detailed analysis rejected the proposal. This project, as I stated in my December letter (included), will define the Northern Gateway to Edina. It is just not another dense commercial “redevelopment”.
Given the challenging times we are all experiencing, this is your opportunity to leave a legacy for the next generation and to exhibit much needed courage and leadership as elected officials. Continuing your myopic view and approving some of the same is safe and requires no vision or conviction. Send these folks back to the drawing board to get their creative juices flowing to design a plan that “wows” the community, supports residential property values, enhances and truly defines Edina as a distinctive suburban community. This is not ordinary “dirt”. 6600-6800 is unique. I submit it is the Northern Gateway to Edina-our first impression.
Thanking you in advance for your NO vote. NO to reject this proposal.
W.W. Bednarczyk, 6566 France Ave. So. #1004, Edina. 952-926-6210

Bill Bednarczyk over 1 year ago

Jeff Golden
Point Of France
6566 France Avenue South #609
Edina, Minnesota 55435

Dear Mayor Hovland:

I had the opportunity to listen to the City Council meeting on January 5th 2021. There were a number of comments made and as a resident of Edina, bring great concern to me.

The Greater Southdale Area has the potential to be a destination location and economic driver for our municipality. My wife and I support a well thought out and balanced redevelopment. However, the current proposal does not achieve this at all. Not even close.

First and foremost, I believe you stated that the Southdale Design Guidelines ought not apply to the 66-6800 project as it is a “redevelopment”. The citizens and the council have worked long and hard over the years to create acceptable guidelines and nowhere does it state that a redevelopment is excused from this. If you and the council allow a waiver for this project, it only sets a precedent for future developments in Edina.

This “redevelopment” if we can call it that, is nothing but a lousy patchwork of some old buildings cobbled together with some new structures. And a cobbled arrangement to “make things work”. To be honest, it is a joke and an embarrassment to the citizens of Edina. Many responses that came from Andy Mcintosh of McGough that evening referenced “this would not be economically feasible” or the “expense to do that does not make sense”, etc., etc. My feeling is if the project can’t be done right, and to create a community asset that has benefit for all, then don’t do the project. This is a 16 acre plot of land. And those buildings in the center of the plot are at an angle. They don’t even fit. A complete hodgepodge of metal, glass and concrete.

Mr. Mayor, you made a statement that if you and the council turned down this project, no other developer would want to build in Edina in the future. To be honest, that is hogwash. You have been the mayor here for the past 15 years. If anyone knows the value of our municipality, it would be you. Edina is one of the most sought after suburbs in the entire Minneapolis area. It has a prestige like no other. And because Edina is one of those prestige suburbs, we should never be concerned about developers coming here to make our city even better! Compromising 16 acres should never be our direction.

Density issues, traffic, height of the apartment buildings, noise, pollution, pile driving, vibration, and looking at an unsightly mess for 12 years is just unacceptable. While I understand that this is a big plot of land to develop, (16 acres), it should not take 12 years to complete. Three to five years is more in line. If McGough can’t find a way to successfully develop the land, the owners should go shopping for another developer.

My wife and I support a visionary project that will embrace an iconic suburb. Reject this project as proposed. Let’s do this right and send this plan back to the drawing board without reservation or hesitation.

As always, thank you for your consideration.


Respectfully yours,


Jeff and Jean Golden
6566 France Avenue South #609
Edina, Minnesota 55435

Jeff Golden over 1 year ago

Dear Mayor Hovland and City Council members,
The city of Edina has a unique opportunity with the 22 acre 6600-6800 site to expand and enhance two neighborhoods - Lake Cornelia and Point of France. The current development proposal has too much emphasis on high rise rental apartments , parking structures and office buildings that we may not need in the future. There is also too much focus on rental vs. home ownership in this plan. People want to live in Edina and raise their families in our unique city. Unfortunately the supply of available homes for sale is very tight. The focus of this site should be to expand the single family Lake Cornelia neighborhood with a community of single family homes, town homes and/or brownstones. A mix of some office space, retail and restaurants to enhance the area is still possible.
The development plan should include the demolition of the 6600 building as it is 50 years old, out of date and causes design restrictions because of its placement.
There are already several large rental developments underway and planned for Edina south of the Crosstown at 66th and Xerxes, the US Bank site, the Guitar City site (underway) and the 72nd and France re-development. To add more apartments to this site is questionable.
The council should follow the Greater Southdale Design Guidelines and not approve any variances to the building height and setbacks which would create an ugly concrete canyon on 66th between France and Valley View.
Lastly, with all of the new rental developments planned and underway , the Council should require a more thorough traffic analysis for France Avenue, 66th and Valley View to ensure traffic congestion is minimized and not rely on picking a point on a trend chart as described in the last Council meeting.
Please listen to the residents of Edina and vote NO to the proposed development plan.

LaMar and Mary Jo Boettner
6566 France Ave Unit 305, Edina

LaMar & Mary Jo over 1 year ago

I am Richard Thieme. I live in the Point of France and serve on the Board of Directors. In that capacity, I made the following statement to the City Council on behalf of the Board of Directors of Point of France concerning the 6600-6800 redevelopment project. But first, I am adding comments in response to what I heard during that meeting.

(1) Developers were asked to show how the project looked when approached from the street level on Valley View. They showed instead an aerial view from a helicopter. The street level view of concrete and glass and a minimum of green does NOT look at all like that. But the council member said, when Andy finished, "Perfect." No, not perfect at all. An evasion.

(2) Developers claim to include the "spirit" not the "letter" of all guidelines for the Southdale area. That is a weasel word which translates into: no, we do not follow the guidelines, we go longer and higher and denser than they specify, but we will try to get the Council to ignore that.

(3) The horrendous noise of pile drivers for 10-12 years is really unthinkable. Point of France is inhabited by people who are mostly in their 60s 70s 80s and 90s. An assault like that on our well-being, and on our physical and mental health, will drive values down but we will take the lower prices in order to escape the din. People will leave. I urge you to think about - once again - the weasel words used to excuse this fact. Andy said, well, it's no different than one project, then another, then another. That's true! That's the problem, not a solution, even if they manage to achieve a minimal standard to be within the law. That law -- 7 until 7 five days a week and 9 to 5 on Saturday -- ought to be rethought.

(4) All of us - and I am on the Board and speak to a lot of people - WANT a project to be built that complies with quality of life issues, the overall guidelines, and the use of a large tract for more than maximizing the developers' profits. We do NOT want to end proposals for redevelopment. We want, however, something, imaginative and neighborhood friendly.

(4a) It sounded as if the Mayor may think that following all recs from the review process to reject this particular proposal will mean no one will want to build ever again on that choice land. I disagree with that assessment. The economics will favor development, but in a better way for all - it is not true, as the developers claimed, that the only way to make money is saturating the land with excessive parking in multiple garages, when they chose to build those office buildings to justify that claim in the first place rather than use the space to better advantage. That diagonal building they want to keep distorts plans but they do keep it rather than - as happens up and down France - removing it for a new project.

(5) The former proposal saved the mature oak trees along Valley View. Suddenly the trees are gone and are replaced with an unbroken row of town houses. How did that happen?

(6) At some point the developers mention the Pentagon office park as an example of the premiere office park in Edina - but they showed a picture of something else, while saying, look at it, but not showing it. I believe we all know that the Pentagon park is in trouble and has slipped from its moorings as a major revenue-generator and prime location. No one I know considers it the premiere office park in Edina.

There's more but that's enough. I ask the Council to create the opportunity for a worthwhile project that serves all of us. I know we can do that.

And here's the text I read at the last meeting:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Board of Directors and the Point of France and share our concerns about the impacts of this project across from our homes. Our concerns overlap with those of everyone who lives, works, and transits through the Southdale area.

A key concern is the negative legacy this unimaginative project would bequeath to our children and the next generation of Edina residents. It would suggest that quality-of-life issues are secondary and lots with chock-a-block office buildings and parking garages are primary. There are good reasons why Edina planners unanimously voted no to this project as it currently exists.

Centennial Lake, by contrast, is a beautifully designed, imaginative space with paths and green space that invites walking, activities and dining out. Planners staring into a quarry did not jump to that design. It took imagination, hard work, and a commitment to enhancing the area in every way. The Commons on France proposal does not do that.

Specifically:

The project violates the Guidelines and spirit of the Greater Southdale District Plan. Density of both office and residential space is excessive. Proposed buildings exceed the 4-story allowance in height and the 200-foot allowance in length.

There is a dearth of walking space through green areas and inadequate connectivity to the neighborhood. A virtually unbroken wall turns 66th Street into an obstacle, not an invitation. There is no relief from glass and concrete.

These facts do impact property values and quality of life. Traffic will increase. Privacy will diminish and obstructive views increase. Air, noise, and light pollution - with 66th Street icier due to shadows - will be worse over the long 10-12 years of projected construction

10-12 years of noise, trucks, and above all, pile drivers pounding the neighborhood from 7 to 7 Monday through Friday and from 9 to 5 on Saturday. Really? Think about it:

Homeowners will need to keep windows closed at all times. Balconies will rarely be used. Construction dirt and dust will be visible. Air conditioners and furnaces will run constantly to filter the air. The horrific noise, will - this is documented - impact mental and physical health. Meanwhile taxpayer support from those same homeowners through TIF will be significant.

Commons on France is not neighborhood or neighbor friendly, it is developer friendly. Send this plan back to the drawing board - please. Invite a better plan that enhances the neighborhood by providing green space and fewer buildings and is celebrated for its design. That is the legacy we hope to give subsequent generations. That is the future we owe to our children.

Thank you.

Richard Thieme

Richard Thieme over 1 year ago

I am Richard Thieme. I live in the Point of France and serve on the Board of Directors. In that capacity, I made the following statement to the City Council on behalf of the Board of Directors of Point of France concerning the 6600-6800 redevelopment project. But first, I am adding comments in response to what I heard during that meeting.

(1) Developers were asked to show how the project looked when approached from the street level on Valley View. They showed instead an aerial view from a helicopter. The street level view of concrete and glass and a minimum of green does NOT look at all like that. But the council member said, when Andy finished, "Perfect." No, not perfect at all. An evasion.

(2) Developers claim to include the "spirit" not the "letter" of all guidelines for the Southdale area. That is a weasel word which translates into: no, we do not follow the guidelines, we go longer and higher and denser than they specify, but we will try to get the Council to ignore that.

(3) The horrendous noise of pile drivers for 10-12 years is really unthinkable. Point of France is inhabited by people who are mostly in their 60s 70s 80s and 90s. An assault like that on our well-being, and on our physical and mental health, will drive values down but we will take the lower prices in order to escape the din. People will leave. I urge you to think about - once again - the weasel words used to excuse this fact. Andy said, well, it's no different than one project, then another, then another. That's true! That's the problem, not a solution, even if they manage to achieve a minimal standard to be within the law. That law -- 7 until 7 five days a week and 9 to 5 on Saturday -- ought to be rethought.

(4) All of us - and I am on the Board and speak to a lot of people - WANT a project to be built that complies with quality of life issues, the overall guidelines, and the use of a large tract for more than maximizing the developers' profits. We do NOT want to end proposals for redevelopment. We want, however, something, imaginative and neighborhood friendly.

(4a) It sounded as if the Mayor may think that following all recs from the review process to reject this particular proposal will mean no one will want to build ever again on that choice land. I disagree with that assessment. The economics will favor development, but in a better way for all - it is not true, as the developers claimed, that the only way to make money is saturating the land with excessive parking in multiple garages, when they chose to build those office buildings to justify that claim in the first place rather than use the space to better advantage. That diagonal building they want to keep distorts plans but they do keep it rather than - as happens up and down France - removing it for a new project.

(5) The former proposal saved the mature oak trees along Valley View. Suddenly the trees are gone and are replaced with an unbroken row of town houses. How did that happen?

(6) At some point the developers mention the Pentagon office park as an example of the premiere office park in Edina - but they showed a picture of something else, while saying, look at it, but not showing it. I believe we all know that the Pentagon park is in trouble and has slipped from its moorings as a major revenue-generator and prime location. No one I know considers it the premiere office park in Edina.

There's more but that's enough. I ask the Council to create the opportunity for a worthwhile project that serves all of us. I know we can do that.

And here's the text I read at the last meeting:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Board of Directors and the Point of France and share our concerns about the impacts of this project across from our homes. Our concerns overlap with those of everyone who lives, works, and transits through the Southdale area.

A key concern is the negative legacy this unimaginative project would bequeath to our children and the next generation of Edina residents. It would suggest that quality-of-life issues are secondary and lots with chock-a-block office buildings and parking garages are primary. There are good reasons why Edina planners unanimously voted no to this project as it currently exists.

Centennial Lake, by contrast, is a beautifully designed, imaginative space with paths and green space that invites walking, activities and dining out. Planners staring into a quarry did not jump to that design. It took imagination, hard work, and a commitment to enhancing the area in every way. The Commons on France proposal does not do that.

Specifically:

The project violates the Guidelines and spirit of the Greater Southdale District Plan. Density of both office and residential space is excessive. Proposed buildings exceed the 4-story allowance in height and the 200-foot allowance in length.

There is a dearth of walking space through green areas and inadequate connectivity to the neighborhood. A virtually unbroken wall turns 66th Street into an obstacle, not an invitation. There is no relief from glass and concrete.

These facts do impact property values and quality of life. Traffic will increase. Privacy will diminish and obstructive views increase. Air, noise, and light pollution - with 66th Street icier due to shadows - will be worse over the long 10-12 years of projected construction

10-12 years of noise, trucks, and above all, pile drivers pounding the neighborhood from 7 to 7 Monday through Friday and from 9 to 5 on Saturday. Really? Think about it:

Homeowners will need to keep windows closed at all times. Balconies will rarely be used. Construction dirt and dust will be visible. Air conditioners and furnaces will run constantly to filter the air. The horrific noise, will - this is documented - impact mental and physical health. Meanwhile taxpayer support from those same homeowners through TIF will be significant.

Commons on France is not neighborhood or neighbor friendly, it is developer friendly. Send this plan back to the drawing board - please. Invite a better plan that enhances the neighborhood by providing green space and fewer buildings and is celebrated for its design. That is the legacy we hope to give subsequent generations. That is the future we owe to our children.

Thank you.

Richard Thieme

Richard Thieme over 1 year ago

My name is Holly Branch and I live at Point of France Condominium

What are the opportunity costs if 66-6800 France is not approved?

At the January 5th City Council meeting, the Mayor identified the forgone public benefits should the current proposal not be accepted:

1) District parking
2) Water treatment facility
3) Public easements and sidewalks
4) Affordable housing
5) Stormwater management

Here are some reasons why these should not necessarily be considered forgone public benefits:

1) The Southdale District currently has a large parking glut. Edina should build for the trend toward less automobile reliance rather than create a problem for future generations to solve. This is a "give to get" that will actually harm Edina.

2) There are other, and perhaps better, sites for a water treatment facility, especially considering that this is a flood plain. City staff stated that they had yet to complete an analysis of this site over others for water treatment.

3) A superior proposal would have more, and better located, public realm as well as improved interconnectivity within the site and to the surrounding neighborhoods. The current plan has most of the public realm located along major streets rather than tucked away from noise and car pollution, like at Centennial Lakes.

4) If this project is not built, it does not mean that we lose affordable housing for Edina. It means that we wait for a better design so that people who need affordable housing can live in an upscale urban village connected to the surrounding area rather than in an isolated poorly designed office park.

5) Rain gardens are a land intensive option for stormwater management. Better options include bioswales, permeable surfaces, terraces, green roofs, and holding ponds. A better design would transform stormwater into a statement public amenity like at Centennial Lakes.

What are the opportunity costs if 66-6800 France is approved?

The City of Edina will lose the last great opportunity to create a large-scale showcase destination that could stand shoulder to shoulder with some of our other masterpieces, such as Centennial Lakes and Nolan Mains.

Because of the scrupulous fiduciary oversight of the Mayor and the City Council, we have seen our tax base grow. That puts us in the fortunate position of not having to accept a proposal that exceeds current zoning ordinances and only partially meets the Southdale District Plan and the Design Experience Guidelines.

We can do better.

Holly Branch over 1 year ago

My name is Bruce Kerber and I live at 6566 France Ave. S., Unit 1211 at the Point of France. It is Tuesday, January 12th at 12:45 PM and I am currently looking out over the proposed project for 6600- 6800 France Ave. area. I am also able to see Southdale quite easily. As I look out at Southdale at the parking lot west of Macy’s/the upper lot, there are currently 6 cars parked in all of that parking ramp space. This is not that unusual for parking during COVID over there. Frankly, it was not all that much better when there was not COVID either. The reason I bring this up is that there is an absolute abundance of vacant and available parking across France Avenue at Southdale. The developer with this new project is proposing to build 4 parking ramps, including what was anticipated to be in excess of 1,500 parking spaces. I am a bit astounded at this. I believe we must do a better job of utilizing current parking in the Southdale area, especially the parking ramps connected to Southdale. The reason the developer proposed the additional parking was so that a proposed employer would feel able to bring in, for perhaps an annual meeting, all their work staff. I find it rather astounding, especially when they were not willing to consider lowering the parking or putting in underground parking in any of the areas in the proposed development. Yet they would spend thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars more, to create 1,500 additional ramp spaces. That is across France Avenue from all the vacant ramp spaces there are at Southdale. I just believe this project is very poorly designed and I would ask that the City Council deny a permit for it to be built. I think it is far too dense, and frankly, I don’t see any particular community benefit whatsoever with the project as it is proposed. -Entered by City Staff

Edinastaff over 1 year ago

I read new Councilmember Jackson’s quote in the January EditionEdina (partial quote): “There’s a group of people who want to go back to the 1950s. We can’t go back to the 1950s. Change is going to happen whether we like it or not.”

My first thought was ‘Shots fired! Whoa! Who was that aimed at?’

Not sure, but speculating for discussion... “Change” affecting the Country Club neighborhood--it’s old, right? Bet not! More likely Cornelia, as so many of their homes were constructed in the 1950s and the 6600-6800 France Avenue project is the first redevelopment that the new City Council will be considering during 2021.

I get it about being flexible, but, on the other hand, the way that the City’s development process currently works, it seems to me that zoning is more like a false assurance and a hurdle that City leaders hope to overcome in favor of precedent-setting and oversized developments. A development is silent on paper, but in real life there can be negative impacts, such as traffic, noise, lights, odors, shadows, and crowding. And there is a cumulative effect with each new development that is added.

This area is supposed to be a transition zone, but instead, what is in the current proposal? A request for multiple variances, not only for building heights, but also for setbacks (including directly across from the Cornelia neighborhood along Valley View Road), parking spaces, and Floor Area Ratio.

1/5/2021 Roberta Castellano 4854 France Ave S

Roberta C over 1 year ago

First, I would like to welcome all of Edina’s new city council members. As Edina’s city council, your decisions will determine the future direction of our city. It is my hope these decisions will enhance a vision reflecting innovative thinking imagination, and culminating in a memorable community setting supporting business, caring neighborhoods, and individual growth.

The 66-6800 location presents a significant opportunity to think beyond parking spaces and high rise buildings that mimic our neighboring MInneapolis. This area of Edina is centrally located and could become another “identity “ or “magnet” for our city similar to “50th and France,” “Southdale” or “The Galleria.” Sadly, the current development plan only promotes an excess of buildings.

Serious work and effort went into The Southdale Design Experience Guidelines to provide an approved “guide” and reference for future city planning. The 66-6800 proposed development plan does not meet these guidelines. This tract of city land represents an opportunity for an imaginative, thought-provoking concept for city living. As city council members, I am asking you to consider a new approach in developing this area, an approach not reliant upon how things are and have been, but in how things could be.
I am asking you to thoughtfully consider a completely new direction, one driven by imagination and vision. This development should not only be about more apartments and office space, but when finished stand within the community as a landmark enhancing community pride, social involvement, and promoting those environmental and social entities we want for our future.

Kandace almost 2 years ago

My name is Bill Gough, I've lived in the Lake Cornelia area for over 30 years. I have several concerns about the new projects being proposed for the Southdale area. Specifically for the 6600-6800 France project, we need to maintain green space along Valley View Road between 66th and 69th Sts. I would suggest a wider green park/corridor/foot and bike path that parallels this road on the east side. This might act as 1) a connection between Rosland Park and Centennial Lakes/Edina Promenade and 2) strengthen the border between the homes west of Valley View and developments closer to France Ave. The apartments being proposed near the corner of Valley View Road and 66th are unimaginative, do not fit with the area, and should be set back further from the roadways. Any development should allow a significant green space all the way along the east side of Valley View to 69th.
Here's an idea - construct a new bike/walkway and park space from the corner of Valley View and 66th along the east side of Valley View to 69th. Build a foot/bike bridge across France and lead it to the Galleria, and create foot/bike lanes underneath the Galleria (via existing road/parking) to connect to the Edina Promenade at 70th. This would also create safe, walkable access from our Lake Cornelia neighborhood across France to the Promenade and Centennial Lakes. Currently, because of traffic, I don't consider the walk across France to be inviting to anyone in our area.
My other concern is overbuilding. Any development plans should take into account the latest trends in office work, largely brought upon us by the Covid crisis. Can we really expect the same demand in the future for office spaces as we had even a few years ago? It seems like a more forward-thinking development of the property would be to lower the number of new office spaces and likewise cut down on parking lot or ramp space, and instead add townhomes facing the Lake Cornelia neighborhood that are compatible in design with the homes on the west side of Valley View. Thanks for listening.

Bill Gough almost 2 years ago

My name is Roberta Thorpe. I live at 6804 Cornelia Drive. I’ve lived here in the Cornelia neighborhood for over 30 years and I want to continue being here. I have great concern about the development at 6600- 6800 France Ave. In my opinion, the density with the condos and apartments is way too high, too tall, and too much. Do we really need more apartments or condos around Southdale? This is not downtown Minneapolis. Let’s put a stop to this and put quality above quantity. Perhaps consider some townhomes in the area. It seems like Edina doesn’t have many townhomes and it might be a nice transition in that area. The other concern are the large parking lots. They’re not only unsightly, but noisy with air and light pollution. I am also concerned about the increased traffic in the area that this project will bring. We do have an elementary school in the neighborhood that will be affected by the increased traffic in our family orientated neighborhood. There is never enough green space around developments along West 70th Street. I would suggest planting more pine trees as they block unsightly walls and other areas, provide year-round green, and help noise and air pollution. I would like to know where the mechanical operational equipment be located? Please no more noise for our neighborhood to listen to. We can do better. Why change these areas when they seem to be working just fine? I would suggest just stopping all the development and let’s see what happens with all the other apartments and condos that are being built in the area. With development comes building noise which is extremely stressful. The “Beep beep beeps” from the equipment can be heard for blocks. So, lets wait and see what the impacts are from other existing developments are and vote no on this item. I don’t understand why residents who are impacted by all of these developments only receive 3 minutes of time to give feedback and ask questions. The developers come in and take as long as they’d like to sell their idea, get feedback, and basically waste a lot of people’s time. Maybe this could be looked at and something done about it. Thank you for listening to me and I think I’ve said it all, but remember that the people living in our neighborhoods are the ones that have to live with the results of all of this development and we should be considered extremely valuable in our comments because of what it will do to our neighborhoods and quality of life. Please vote no. Thank you very much and lets’ not try to fix everything that is already working. -Entered by City Staff

Edinastaff almost 2 years ago

As a resident of the Concord neighborhood and working group member of two small area plans, I am concerned about what happens in the Southdale area which has so much potential to be a destination gem and economic driver for our city. I support thoughtful and balanced re-development, but this proposal is all wrong for achieving the right direction for the future of that area.

I will be sending a more formal letter to the city council regarding my strong objections to this project and I sincerely hope that the planning commission will do the same—object to this proposal by denying the request for an Ordinance Amendment/Preliminary Rezoning to amend the existing PUD. Among my objections:
- The proposal does not meet the strategic direction found in Vision Edina of “Balancing Edina’s Redevelopment, and Enhancing Our Community Fabric and Character.”
- The proposal does not meet the aspirations or goals for the Greater Southdale District Plan (GSDP) including this example from its Vision Statement: “We imagine new promenades that bridge nearby neighborhoods with the life of the district, where those seams become places of lasting value. We imagine beautiful outdoor spaces for play, socializing, and respite while accommodating the functional needs of new development.” And that’s just one example of many where this proposal contradicts the GSDP.
- The proposed development detracts from rather than complements or enhances the regional medical center corridor in that area of Southdale. Edina has an opportunity to position and expand this specialized corridor that could have lasting economic development benefits for the community.
- The proposed development is located on what could be a prestigious corner of Edina and should welcome visitors to a vibrant district. There is no “vibrancy” in this proposal, just a wall of buildings. Whether this proposal or subsequent, much care should be given to how that 22-acre property shapes the gateway of the district.
- Finally, I am astounded that the developer is proposing this project will take TEN years to complete! Ten years of construction mess and noise; ten years of traffic detours and distractions; ten years of limbo. A lot can happen in ten years to derail development and Edina could end up with two lackluster, stalled, long-term construction zones: Pentagon Park and this property in Southdale.

Please, Planning Commissioners, vote no to this proposal and deny the request.
Thank you for your service to Edina,
Connie Carrino

Constance almost 2 years ago

My name is Gregg Swedberg, and am a life long (60 years) resident of Edina. We live in the Lake Cornelia neighborhood. I am generally opposed to tall buildings in the community. I am also generally opposed to the overdevelopment of the Southdale area, but understand the need to reshape that area with the slow death of retail happening now.

I really wish we could have an honest depiction of how the area is being developed. In this view, there's nothing happening on 70th and France and the huge new building on Hazelton is missing. (And in the 70th & FRance US Bank plan, the other development is conveniently hidden.) Separately, one might concede that this project has done a decent job of not going too high, and providing some green space.
I might be missing it, but I do not see any plans for affordable housing. If it's there, I apologize. The parking garages are a really disappointing feature that I wish we could avoid so close to neighborhoods. In the Centennial lakes area, the parking garages are fine. At 50th and France, they seem to be okay. This one seems a little close. I'm also trying to figure out the fairly organized support of the 70th & France plan while this one seems to be less well-thought-of. I appreciate the chance to feed back.

Gregg Swedberg almost 2 years ago

My name is Victoria Mousseau and I am a 30-year resident of Edina (Chowen Park) and a loyal patron of both Tavern on France and Total Image of Edina. We need to slow down Edina’s population explosion. We need to leave some natural green spaces. As steward of our planet, we must stop tearing down what is still in good condition just to replace it with something more expensive.

I don’t understand how we cannot have the financial resources to provide the recommended third fire station and sufficient police coverage to better control the increasing crime, when we have tripled the value (and tax base) of each house turned into a McMansion and built innumerable expensive multi-unit residences in former parking lots, and in every conceivable nook and cranny of this city.

I have lived in the same house for thirty years and the quiet of my suburban neighborhood is now filled with constant construction noise (other than in winter). Beautiful mature trees have been cut down for new construction, just because they are a little bit inconvenient to leave in place. I have accepted that my 70-year-old house will be torn down when I sell it one day. I grew up in a suburb of Boston where old homes - older than any we have here - are valued for their age and idiosyncrasies; they are updated but not destroyed, even if that means 7’ ceilings, low doorways, etc.

I am deeply saddened by what has happened here. We need to slow down the change.

Vmousseau almost 2 years ago

Kelly Veit, Lake Cornelia resident. I reside within 1,000ft of this project. I have followed this development for months and was present for an in-person meeting with the developer. I gave feedback regarding the first sketch plan and the second draft to the developer and to city council by email. I have concerns regarding the use of this space for primarily office space and parking. The Southdale design guide describes building the Southdale area to be uniquely Edina. I feel this current design does not achieve that. The southern end of the area will only offer a view of an office building and a parking garage to those that travel north/south on France Ave and along Valley View. If the residential tower is approved on the northeast/west corners it will form a wall to the area behind it. Why is an additional large office building needed? Plus a medical office building? This site has the potential to be wonderful and a location that residents and others visiting the area could stay and enjoy. Adding these additional office buildings to what is already there takes up valuable space that could be utilized for a more human experience and a draw to Edina. As their design stands there is nothing to inspire a person to visit/live/play in the area. It was mentioned in a city council meeting that this area would be an ideal space to use similar to 50th and France. Connect this area to my neighborhood and bridge the gap between Southdale mall/galleria and us. Townhomes would be nice, small streets with cafes, shopping, and intimate park space would all transition Lake Cornelia to France Ave. This design only serves to create a concrete barrier.

In addition to these comments I feel the view of another office tower and parking garages from my home is very undesirable. No matter how well you “camoflage” a parking garage, it will always look like a parking structure. We already have traffic cutting through our neighborhood, I fear this would increase with this development. Per the developer, this plan may take ten years. To think of that level of noise for that long makes me cringe.

In summary, Edina can do better. Make Edina and the Southdale area unique and inviting. Not another suburban office park with residential buildings thrown in to try and soften it. The area is enough of a parking lot already.

Kvpt almost 2 years ago