4500 France Avenue-Parking Variance and Site Plan

about 15 hours ago
Outcome: This variance request was denied.

Resolution No. 2020-48

Orion Investments is requesting a parking stall variance from 61 spaces required to 36 proposed, and an amendment to their approved final development plan (site plan) at 4500 France Avenue. The purpose of the request is to increase the seating capacity of the approved restaurant from 35 seats to 100 seats in the new development under construction. The applicant is proposing an alternative parking plan to utilize parking spaces located in nearby commercial parking lots in addition to the 36 spaces on their site.

Updated Applicant Submittal-4/30/20


This item will be heard by the Planning Commission on April 29th and City Council on May 5th. 

Please contact Cary Teague, Community Development Director, with any questions regarding this project. 

Applicant Submittal

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
  • Admin Commented Jennifer Garske about 2 months ago
    I definitely am against the 100-seat restaurant. I think it should be kept at 35 like was the original plan. And I also think it is a very, very dangerous corner—44th and Sunnyside both funnel into France there, with tons of people walking, riding bike, strollers etc. heading toward Lake Harriet. It is a very dangerous area. And adding more cars in that area is ridiculous. Please consider voting no for a variance for the restaurant to be 100 seat—keep it at 35. Thank you. Submitted by staff for Karen Tully
  • Admin Commented Jennifer Garske about 2 months ago
    I am opposed to both of these for the following reasons. No. 1—The approval for this project was based on several important issues. I’ll only address the parking part of it right now. That there be adequate parking provided on site for apartment renters and guests, retail and restaurant customers, employees and also some district parking. This is what the developer promised and agreed to provide. And this is what the staff, Planning Commission and City Council approved, and the neighbors fought so hard for. And now, after the fact, the developer wants to enlarge the restaurant and decrease the parking on site. In my opinion it doesn’t make any sense. It’s going back on one’s word in the original agreement. And I feel it’s an unreasonable request. The proposed off-site parking the developer is hoping to secure is not very practical, in my mind, or guaranteed, or a valid solution. I would like to know if he has a secured, signed lease agreement designating the parking spaces and for how long from each business. As we all know things can change quickly and the parking spaces may not be available in the future. People are creatures of habit and do not want to walk any distance in bad weather or in the winter. I would also like to know if he has a signed lease with the restaurant and have copies of these leases been given to the Planning Commission and City Council. Again, I would like you to say no. And I guess I believe other businesses in the area should not be responsible for this development’s parking. District parking will probably never be needed if each business or apartment complex provide adequate parking for their establishment. I ask you to say no to this parking variance and site plan amendment. Let’s not go through this again. I thank you very much for your time. Submitted by staff for Roberta Thorpe
  • Admin Commented Jennifer Garske about 2 months ago
    Dear Council Members, Laws matter. Don’t they? If the law doesn’t apply here then when does it? In this case, Orion has decided to ignore the city’s law and bet on getting yet another variance approved by the city. Is this really the behavior we’re going to keep inviting and encouraging from this developer? The agreements that Orion has suddenly put in place with a couple of nearby businesses are meaningless and can evaporate at any moment. One agreement, the Masonic Lodge, coincidentally fell through the night of the Planning Commission. These agreements are not permanent solutions to the parking problem yet this variance is VERY permanent. So what happens when the developer's agreements dissolve - potentially the day the restaurant opens? There is nothing protecting the residents from absorbing all of the associated parking and traffic issues.The developer’s plan assumes employees won’t/can’t drive to work and doesn’t account for the parking needs of delivery trucks, take-out parking, etc. The parking study assumes all 36 stalls are for the developer’s own use when in fact, those stalls are available for all the local businesses. The study also assumes drivers will take the time to drive around to find the various parking lots that the developer has made “agreements” with when, in reality, people are going to drive up and down the street until they find a spot. Commissioner’s Nemerov and Douglas, understood these issues and voted no. You cannot just toss a law out the window and accept agreements that have no teeth and ultimately leave the residents absorbing the burden of a poor decision. The City’s Staff report recognizes these issues as well and recommends denial. Orion has extra residential parking spaces in its building it could use for this retail parking short-fall but it refuses to do so. Orion could look at easements if serious about a solution. It refuses to do so. Orion would like the neighborhood to absorb this burden and the extreme costs associated with it. The developer got a lot of TIF money for this project. Is he planning to give some of that money back?I’m excited about the possibilities on the corner – it’s why we chose to live here. But we need to have adequate parking and do this project responsibly. It's the whole reason we spent countless hours on a Small Area Plan. This building is setting the precedent for the corner. As Mr. Teague said, the city has never counted on on-street parking before – you’ve always required developers to meet the parking requirements. I’ll leave out commentary one what’s actually happened at the “developer sponsored community meetings” that he’s held. Of course he has come back to you with a rosy story. The neighbors have a very different version of these developer sponsored community meetings and quite frankly, we’re tired of them. A neighborhood restaurant would be great. There are plenty of successful small restaurants in the Twin Cities - Tilia, Grand Café and Zumbro…to name a few. These are the types of restaurants Orion has adequate parking to support and approval to put in the building today. Deny this variance. There is no hardship here. This is self-imposed by the developer. Enough of these bait and switch tactics. Residents are counting on you. Laws matter. Don’t they? Thank you. Submitted by staff for Julie Schmidt
  • Admin Commented Jennifer Garske about 2 months ago
    I am writing in regard to the parking variance request for 4500 France Avenue. Let me begin by saying that, as someone who lives 2 doors down from this development, I think the developer has done a good job designing a building that fits in well with the neighborhood. Let me also note that I am not opposed to density and walkable neighborhoods. I support those concepts. But I have many issues with the parking variance request. The project was approved with a 35-seat restaurant, it does not have enough parking to accommodate a 100-seat restaurant, and the city'scommunity development director has said the variance request does not satisfy the required statutory elements. I understand the developer has come to agreements with businesses in the neighborhood to expand the number of parking spots, but the reality is that people will simply drive into the neighborhood to look for parking. The excess traffic will be an undue burden on the neighborhood. Please reject the variance request. Submitted by staff for Chris Dall
  • Admin Commented Jennifer Garske about 2 months ago
    The variance request for 4500 France should be rejected because there is not adequate public parking to support it. Please see the...letter [below], which among other things, points out that there is now an oversupply of public parking at 50th and France while 44th and France is a public parking desert.Supporters of this variance frequently point to restaurants at 50th and France and say they’d like to have the same kind of amenities in the 44th and France area. This ignores the fact that 50th and France has ample on-site public parking to support these businesses. The 44th and France area does not.Morningside residents are not being unreasonable or outdated in their thinking in asking for this type of public parking. They are not asking for something that won’t be needed now or in the immediate future because supposedly fewer people will be driving and needing places to park.If that were the case, how do you explain why the 50th and France area just finished adding huge numbers of public parking spaces? The Market Street redevelopment added so many that the district now has a surplus of public parking stalls – yes, a surplus, according to the 50th and France Small Area Plan.Page 71 of the SAP states that 50th and France now has 1,170 free parking stalls in ramps and lots, compared to 907 before the Market Street project. The SAP report says the area now has an excess of 51 to 192 parking stalls, depending on whether it’s a slow or busy time of year. These spaces are in addition to private parking stalls built for apartment residents.This big increase in parking capacity comes even though 50th and France is just as pedestrian- and bike -friendly as 44th and France. 50th and France is served by three bus lines (the #6, #46 and #146). 44th and France is served by only one – the #6.As for bus ridership, there is nothing to support the notion that more people are taking the bus now or will in the immediate future. According to the Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit local bus ridership has declined in recent years and fell by 8 percent in 2019. Express ridership fell by 3 percent. The reasons include cheaper gas and lower interest rates on auto loans – two things that in the wake of Covid 19, are likely to continue in the near future.It is wrong to use Southdale, where some of its old parking lots have been taken up by new buildings like the Shake Shack and Restoration Hardware, as an example of fewer retail/restaurant customers driving. First, Southdale is a regional mall. The reason it has had space to spare in its parking lots is because fewer people are going to regional malls – overall customer foot traffic is down. It has nothing to do with how people are getting there.These and other facts, not wishful thinking, should guide the city’s denial of this variance. Submitted by staff for Dave Peterson
  • Admin Commented Jennifer Garske about 2 months ago
    Please deny the variance for 4500 France, which is unjustifiable for several reasons, including one I have written about...[below]...that explains how the developer's proposal violates federal EEOC regulations.The developer’s claim that restaurant workers at 4500 France could be “instructed” not to drive to work (and park) but walk, bike, use public transit, Uber or carpool is not only unrealistic – it’s actually against the law.EEOC regulations prohibit employers from mandating, or even suggesting to workers the ways they should commute. A recruiting employer isn’t even supposed to ask potential employees how they would travel to and from their jobs. That’s because the means of commuting has no direct bearing on how the person performs in the job. Bringing it up in any way could result in liability claims of discrimination – claims against the restaurant operator, against the developer if that were included in a leasing agreement for the restaurant – and claims against the city if it included that as a condition for this variance. There is no ambiguity here, the EEOC regulations are pretty clear.Legalities aside, this raises the question of how do restaurant workers actually get to and from their jobs. The assurances from the operator of Tinto Kitchen that her current workers don’t drive are beside the point. This variance is not about her business – it’s about a permanent set of conditions. If she were to vacate 4500 France, there is no assurance that the next restaurant operator’s employees would commute the same way.I recently asked a family member, who has worked in the restaurant business for several years, how he and his co-workers commute. This family member has worked at restaurants at 50th and France, Uptown, the North Loop and until the coronavirus shutdown, at a restaurant in Loring Park.He said his commuting experience is much the same as his co-workers’. People drive most of the time, especially if there’s free parking. Sometimes they use Uber or ride-share. They rarely walk, bike or take the bus.There are several reasons many restaurant workers prefer the flexibility of driving themselves. Some people work two jobs and must travel from one workplace to another in the course of a day. Some combine working with going to school. Some have children they must transport to childcare.There’s also the unpredictability of restaurant hours. Workers can be asked to fill in for a co-worker on short notice if someone calls in sick. Workers may get sent home early if business is slow or have to stay late if patrons come in and order meals shortly before official closing hours.The developer’s attempt to minimize the parking impact of restaurant workers has no basis in fact. It’s also part of a larger pattern of his using false and misleading information to justify this variance.One very blatant example was in his April written variance proposal, when he claimed he had an agreement with the Masonic Lodge allowing him to use its 12 parking spots. He hastily withdrew this on April 29 – but only after a Lodge spokesman took the unusual step of calling him out publicly. The Lodge posted a statement on BetterTogether that said no such parking agreement existed. Since then, some neighbors have spoken to Lodge members who say members and staff alike were shocked when they learned of this claim. They say no one at the Lodge discussed a parking agreement with the developer.Things like these should be red flags to the city, which should be concerned about everything else the developer has promised.Submitted by staff for Susan Peterson
  • Admin Commented Jennifer Garske about 2 months ago
    I am writing to voice my support for the parking variances at both 4532 and 4500 France Avenue. Having attended the Planning Commission meetings with respect to these matters - and having read and reviewed the relevant traffic studies, Staff Reports, Small Area Plan and Comprehensive Plan - it is clear that - despite vocal and well-organized opposition - the verifiable facts surrounding these applications both support - and even necessitate - their approval. Please carefully review the facts surrounding this matter and make a decision based on the data and not on emotions and fear. Thank you. Submitted by staff for Robert Cundy
  • Admin Commented Jennifer Garske about 2 months ago
    Regarding 4500 France, the PUD for this development states that parking is governed by city code section 36-1312. The variance is from requirements in section 36-1311. Section 36-1311 is not referenced in the PUD or approval resolution with conditions. Conditions included a maximum 35 restaurant seats. If the PUD says 36-1312 governs parking and the approval resolution clearly contemplates a restaurant, how does 36-1311 apply? A variance and site plan amendment gets the job done, but the PUD will still say 36-1312 governs and will still reference a specific resolution (2018-137) that limits the restaurant to 35 seats.Apart from this, the facts do not support a variance. If a variance is granted or the restaurant is otherwise allowed to expand, the public parking easement should be vacated and TIF adjusted accordingly. If a restaurant puts heavy demand on these spaces, their value to public is greatly diminished. The developer should shoulder the cost of these spaces.Submitted by staff for an Edina resident
  • bbruesho about 2 months ago
    We are once again in FAVOR of the variance and want to see it APPROVED. City Council, please note that nearly 1 out of every 5 comments (20%) on this board have been made by just 3 individuals who oppose the variance ==> Re: a very active minority who are opposed are overshadowing a majority who are in favor of the variance. To reiterate why this should be APPROVED by the City Council: ** 1) This community needs and wants a full-service, authentic restaurant. Here's our only opportunity. A smaller seating capacity is not viable here for this type of restaurant and will result in a quick-serve chain or cookie-cutter retail outlet (and possibly MORE traffic due to higher turnover). That is a lose-lose situation and a huge negative that would tremendously detract from the amenities of the area; ** 2) Traffic will always be an issue regardless of 36 seats or 100 seats! That's very trivial in the big picture and will have a very minimal direct net increase in overall car traffic ==> this restaurant at 100 seats will be a minor contributor in the aggregate at only an estimated 5 cars additional per hour. This is a vibrant area with retail at our doorstep; let's embrace the opportunity to create a wonderful neighborhood meeting place; ** 3) Parking is a non-issue. With 35 parking stalls, 15 adjacent stalls owned by the developer and 7 immediate street parking spaces there is PLENTY of space for a 100-seat restaurant; and let's remember that 20-25% of patrons will likely arrive on foot (ourselves included); ** 4) Compromises have been made by the developer to address concerns, including a No Left Turn barrier/sign onto Sunnyside and a cross-walk. We are excited to have this great addition to the community, thank you!
    Hide reply (1)
    • Morningsider about 2 months ago
      How many times have you posted? Between you and rwcmn2020, you have dominated this comment board.
  • Morningsider about 2 months ago
    This developer should have been told to withdraw his variance application when his falsehood regarding The Masonic Lodge was exposed. That alone should serve as a red flag that casts doubt on everything else in his application.
  • Murphy11 about 2 months ago
    People who keep citing the parking lots west of France between 44th and Sunnyside as proof that there’s sufficient parking for a new 100-seat restaurant are missing the point. All that parking is private, held by other property owners. There are signs everywhere warning people that unauthorized users will be towed – that would include patrons of a restaurant at 4500 France. Two of those property owners – Roberta Thorpe of the Convention Grill and the owner of the Zingale dental building – have gone out of their way to post comments on BetterTogether emphasizing that their parking spaces are for their patrons only. Ms. Thorpe took the extra step of saying she doesn’t even want the 4500 France restaurant customers driving through her property to look for parking someplace else. ---- It’s trespassing. It’s against the law. And the city should not overlook or minimize that in an effort to justify this variance. The city should not condone any suggestion by the developer that somehow there would be no harm in having restaurant patrons park in some of those other private places because it would be at night, after some of those other businesses had closed for the day. How would you react if you learned that some stranger was parking in the garage at your house while you were gone for the day at work because after all, you’re not using it then, right? ---- A parking study in the 44th and France Small Area Plan downplayed the fact that public parking is strictly prohibited in this large privately-owned area when it cited field studies showing the space was under-utilized (Page 66). The report described this parking as “accessible only” to patrons of those other businesses. That hardly describes the hostile greeting unauthorized users get, the huge signs threatening to have them towed. Nevertheless, the developer and his supporters have seized on this tidbit, claiming that even if the space is privately-owned, its under-utilization somehow proves that there is no shortage of parking in the area. --- It proves no such thing. What it proves is that there is a parking imbalance at 44th and France because too little of it is public parking. --- On-street parking is a nightmare at 44th and France, especially at the commercial end of Sunnyside. How else can you explain the fact that employees of Hello Pizza, Caribou and Brueggers are already parking in front of homes on Sunnyside and Curve? That those same residential streets are already the go-to parking places for the Convention Grill when it has a busy night? ---- Morningside residents have complained to the city for years about commercial parking on our streets and have been ignored. If it’s “part of the neighborhood character,” as some supporters of this variance suggest, it has been against these neighborhood homeowners’ wishes and should not be used as an excuse for dumping more commercial parking on this neighborhood. ---- Adding a 100-seat restaurant to the mix would make this imbalance even worse. That imbalance will not be corrected – in fact, it will be made worse – if the developer is allowed to take back the 36 parking spots he was supposed to share as part of the TIF agreement. The imbalance will not be corrected with a patchwork quilt of leased parking spots that no one will ever use or by grabbing on-street parking spots across the border in Minneapolis. Deny this variance.
  • Jason Greene about 2 months ago
    A neighborhood restaurant would be nice to have. It seems most agree on this. The good news is that Orion has approval to put one in right now. There are plenty of great 35-45 seat restaurants in the Twin Cities – Tilia and Grand Café are a couple of examples. These are the types of restaurants Orion has adequate parking to support and approval to put in the building today. Cities all over the world have successful, quaint, neighborhood restaurants that stand the test of time. If this is the size restaurant that the building can support from a parking standpoint then it’s the size restaurant that should be going in. Orion’s proposal states they’ll mandate that restaurant employees take public transportation. How do you do that and is that even legal? The building is already under-parked for Mr. Carlson’s request. Assuming you can’t mandate that employees don’t drive then where are employees going to park? Where will delivery trucks park? Where will people park who are getting take-out? The parking study includes all 36 onsite stalls for Mr. Carlson when in fact, those 36 stalls are not all for Mr. Carlson. Those are available for all the businesses in the area. Also, the parking study assumes people will drive to the random offsite lots, like the dentist office, when human behavior shows that people would prefer to drive down the street and park closer to where they’re actually going. This is also assuming the agreements with the couple of lots even stay in place. The Masonic Lodge agreement already fell through. There are too many assumptions in Orion’s plan. No one is telling Orion it can’t have a restaurant. It’s been approved to have one. One just like Tilia or Grand Café – both of which would be excellent types of restaurants to add to our neighborhood. They also have more of a European feel, which is something Orion says it’s really striving for with “The Lorient.” Europeans have smaller, quainter neighborhood restaurants. There is no reason to approve this variance. The real risks far outweigh the perceived benefits. If our laws and ordinances matter then City Council needs to enforce them. Deny this variance.
  • Morningsider about 2 months ago
    The 4500 France developer has told city officials that since having his variance proposal voted down by the Planning Commission in February he has “engaged with residents” and used their feedback to revise his variance request. ** Nothing could be further from the truth. I attended the developer’s meeting at The Riveter that took place March 9, and listened to what he said. I still have the handout from the meeting where he outlined his parking plan. There is essentially nothing in it that has changed between then and now. In other words, he made a show of listening to our concerns over traffic and parking and ignored them. ** There are two minor changes since that Riveter meeting, but in both cases Mr. Carlson was forced to make them. He reduced the restaurant’s seating capacity from 110 to 100 – something he pretty much had to do after the Planning Commission voted down his first proposal. He also has withdrawn the 12 parking spaces he said he would lease at the Masonic Lodge, but that is only because it was an outright falsehood that was exposed after The Masonic Lodge issued a public statement saying that was not true. ** If the developer listened to the feedback from neighbors who attended The Riveter meeting, he certainly didn’t do anything with what we told him. He should not get any credit for responding to neighbors’ concerns.
  • LP about 2 months ago
    Supporters of the 4500 France variance would like the city to believe that it is essentially the same as a smaller, less controversial variance at 4532 France. That could not be further from the truth. They are vastly different. *** The owner of 4532 France has actual, real-life parking data that shows the parking spaces on his property are under-utilized. On his property. Not parking on someone else’s private parking lot through a dark alley a block away. Not parking he was supposed to share with other users under a TIF agreement. Not on-street parking across the border in Minneapolis. His property alone. There is zero chance of parking for 4532 France ever spilling into neighborhood streets. *** There is no such foundation for the 4500 France variance request. It is built on assumptions about a hastily-assembled patchwork quilt of off-site parking spots, including some he wants to take back in violation of the TIF agreement. *** It is based on Spack’s traffic research that does not compare the increase in traffic with a 100-seat restaurant compared to a 35-seat restaurant. Spack’s original traffic research didn’t even have numbers for the old dry cleaners. There is no base line. *** Spack’s parking projections do not take into account the very likely possibility that surrounding restaurant/retail merchants will stay open later to piggyback on the new restaurant’s evening hours. This is what businesses do, and how neighborhood commercial nodes succeed – with synergy. When those other merchants extend their operating hours, the overlap will expand. *** The only thing the 4532 and 4500 variance requests have in common is the word “France.” Deny the one for 4500.
  • Sunny_side about 2 months ago
    I wonder if the property owner of 44th Street Dental understands the liability risks he is exposing himself to through the parking leasing agreement with Orion? If 4500 France restaurant patrons were to injure themselves in the parking lot on his property – tripping and falling on an uneven piece of pavement, slipping on ice or snow – 44th Street Dental could find itself on the receiving end of a personal injury lawsuit, because it had agreed to let restaurant customers use its parking lot. Maybe that’s one reason other owners of private parking lots in the area have said no to these risky parking arrangements. By extension, the city also would be at risk to be sued if it knew of and agreed to these parking lease agreements. In general, cities are advised not to encourage parking in remote locations – like across the border in Minneapolis – because of this liability risk.The City Council should be mindful of its fiduciary duty to the city in this case as well honoring the terms of the TIF agreement. The City Council should reject this variance request.
  • Sunnysidesunshine 2 months ago
    Here’s the applicable state law on variances rewritten so the law doesn’t have to be followed but can accommodate the reasons being put forward by most people for wanting to have a 100-seat restaurant at Sunnyside and France—462.357 Official Controls: Zoning Ordinance Sub. 6. Appeals and adjustments(2) To hear requests for variances from the requirements of the zoning ordinance including restrictions placed on non-conformities. Variances shall only be permitted when they are in harmony with the general purposes and intent of the ordinance and when the variances are consistent with the comprehensive plan. Variances may be granted when the applicant for the variance establishes that there are practical difficulties in complying with the zoning ordinance. “Practical difficulties”, as used in connection with the granting of a variance, means that the property owner proposes to use the property in a reasonable manner not permitted by the zoning ordinance; the plight of the landowner is due to circumstances unique to the property not created by the landowner; and the variance granted will not alter the essential character of the locality. Economic considerations alone do not constitute practical difficulties. Practical difficulties include, but are not limited to, inadequate sunlight for solar energy systems...A condition must be directly related to and must bear a rough proportionality to the impact created by the variance.Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following exceptions shall apply according to the what People in favor of the Variances say they want:(1) Desire to have a cool place to gather and hang out in the neighborhood;(2) Desire to have a big restaurant to walk or ride to; (3) Want to have a bigger restaurant to gather at for a bigger family;(4) Excited about having a big restaurant in the neighborhood;(5) Want to have a high-end restaurant in the area;(6) Want to have a vibrant restaurant in the area;(7) Want to have a big restaurant in the area to become a destination where I can meet friends;(8) Look forward to calling a big restaurant “home”; or(9) Feel that a big restaurant in the area would be a tremendous amenity to the neighborhood.Of course, the law does not recognize any of these as valid exceptions to the Variance Law. However, these are the main reasons expressed by the people who support the variance requests at the Lorient. Please vote to deny the variances. Thank you!
    Hide reply (1)
    • Murphy11 about 2 months ago
      Great comment! The people who keeping braying about 50th and France-style amenities like sit-down restaurants fail to recognize that 50th and France has the public parking to support these businesses. That’s not the case in the 44th and France area. I also wonder if these same people know that 50th and France now has an oversupply of public parking stalls in ramps. This excess of parking stalls resulted from the recently-completed Nolan Mains project and is noted in the 50th and France SAP. This area is walkable, bike-friendly and served by three bus lines, compared to just one bus line at 44th and France. And once again, 4500 France is already approved for a restaurant – a 35-seat restaurant that is appropriately-sized to the area’s public parking capacity.
  • Dennis Olson about 2 months ago
    I write in support of the variance and site plan amendment requested by Orion Investments and the Planning Commission’s decision to grant it. I am a neighbor living close enough to the underlying project to receive public hearing notices in the mail from the City. The proposed 100 seat restaurant is the size and type of dining experience that should be welcomed in the neighborhood. The requested parking stall variance will ensure it will happen. I watched the May 5 meeting and was struck by how most of the comments against the request focused on a possible traffic increase and on-street parking problem. The study produced by the parking and traffic consultant hired by the City establishes neither traffic patterns nor parking should derail plans for a 100 seat restaurant. Setting aside the fact that on-street parking is an allowable use of streets under City Code, Orion Investments has secured 44 off-street parking stalls—15 from the adjacent property and 29 in parking lots within one block. Coupled with the 36 on-site parking stalls, these 80 stalls are more than both the 61 required under City Code and the peak parking demand of 53 stalls forecast by the parking consultant. With regard to traffic, the consultant found that a 100 seat restaurant will generate one extra vehicle every 12 minutes, well within capacity standards for the local streets and intersections. The proposed 100 seat restaurant is an amenity to the neighborhood that will enhance, not detract from, it. City staff determined that additional interior restaurant seats will not alter the character of the neighborhood. Staff also determined the neighborhood’s character will not be altered if the 80 off-street parking stalls were utilized. The City Council should affirm the Planning Commission’s approval of the request and grant the variance and site plan amendment.
  • Eliot Howard about 2 months ago
    Several years ago a proposal was put forth for redevelopment in the Concord neighborhood where my family and I have resided for 27 years. The proposed project at Woodale and Valley View included the conversion of Wally's gas station to a pub-style restaurant. As the project moved through phases of planning and development legitimate questions arose concerning traffic volume, a later than customary closing time and the introduction of an establishment serving alcohol. Through input and adaptation the concerns were addressed. Our experience with the process leads me to trust that concerns raised with this project can be addressed to a successful end.Over the past several years we have had available to us a restaurant that is appealing to people of all ages. It provides a place for us to meet up with friends without using a car. Moreover, the restaurant has been the primary improvement to the corner, creating a lively and inviting neighborhood "hub" . What had become more than a bit "tired" was renewed in to a place where we recognize and engage in ways we hadn't in the past. The positive energy is palpable. For 27 years I have worked just east of France in the Linden Hills neighborhood. I can see advantages to this proposal for neighbors and nearby small businesses alike.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Sunnysidesunshine about 2 months ago
      I have been to the Town Hall Station many times. There is an attached HUGE parking lot. Never once was the parking full. Obviously,, there is more parking than restaurant seats. We never once had to park on a nearby residential street. In fact, the residential streets are quite a distance from this restaurant. Orion did get approval for a restaurant so you are mistaken. It is a 36 seat restaurant that the developer agreed to when the project was approved in 2018. I am sure that can still create a lively and inviting neighborhood hub for you and your friends.
  • William Powell 2 months ago
    Grew up on Browndale, now live on Sunnyside so I'm very in tune with what this area has been in the past, current and proposed future. The most simple approach and it will show quite clearly that the area would be deeply impacted on the additional parking requested is to drive by it as I do being a resident. Seriously, if you truly want to know how this will impact the area go drive around it numerous times over different time periods. It is busy and congested with very limited parking...period. I think end of discussion for anyone that honestly looks at with common sense. The area was already stressed prior to construction when the cleaners that didn't demand much parking was in business. The addition of the residential units will impact what few spaces off site that exist. To add on top demand from a larger seating dining venue is crazy. The underground spaces in the complex won't be utilized by many as it is more of a hassle than street parking if it was available meaning they will fill up first and bleed down to residential areas vs navigating a parking ramp. I know when I go to Excelsior and Grand for example I utilize the street before a parking ramp or lot. I don't think I'm the only guy that does this. Next point is the approach of this whole thing from the beginning. It was zoned 2 story if I remember correctly and that was doubled which now has changed the feel dramatically. Again, go visit the area. That can't be changed now so we are stuck with it. At the same time the seating and parking was approved by the city and agreed upon by the developer. Either someone forecasting failed tremendously if 35 seats needs to be tripled or perhaps a back room payola hand shake knowing it would change? If it isn't sustainable then why was it accepted? Can one conclude they need additional seating even before someone even tries what was planned. Poor planning on the developers account should not result in a major negative impact to my neighborhood and parking. I can't say my opinion would be different if we were having this discussion 4 years later due to failed attempts for something viable to fill the space but at least we could have more to discuss and see the impact everything else involving this corner has impacted parking. Seems like a child coming to you with school work and saying they can't do it yet haven't even opened the book to try. Agreed upon was 35 seats, that is what it should be. Hard to turn back a poor decision once it is made and this would be a poor decision. Again, lived here since 1962 and I'm in tune to what lies lurking if this is allowed.Please I encourage you, drive by morning, afternoon, night, weekends, week days. It will not be safe or convenient for the community. Keep it as proposed and agreed upon.
  • SDean36 2 months ago
    I'm personally all for a bustling corner. I’m from Chicago and we just moved here recently with our two young kids. In Chicago, we lived on Michigan Avenue. I love walkable and urban and we chose to live in Morningside because its potential. But we need to have adequate parking at this already very busy corner and do this project reasonably and responsibly. It's why we put so much effort into the Small Area Plan – which this proposal conflicts with in many ways. Someone brought up “fear of change.” There’s nothing scary about the corner being developed but Orion’s plan is very concerning. There are way too many holes, assumptions and impermanent solutions in it that will leave the residents absorbing the costs of a poor decision. Commissioner’s Nemerov and Douglas understood these issues and voted no. Mr Teague’s report shows that the statutory elements for a variance cannot be satisfied and also recommends denial. Council Members, please uphold the law and protect your residents. Deny this variance. The developer knew what the rules were two years ago. A deal is a deal. There is no hardship here. This is self-imposed by the developer. Residents are counting on you. Thank you.
  • Scott Smith 2 months ago
    Mayor Hovland and Edina City Council. Before you again will be a decision where you will have to weigh the merits of a few neighbors against the greater good of the Morningside neighborhood. I encourage you to accept the compromise that the Planning Commission decided on. For years, many of my friends and neighbors have thought about the benefits of a restaurant in Morningside that we could embrace and call our own. Your decision will also have a major impact on the perceived and economic success of an important and large mixed use project. Please move forward with another win/win solution on this matter on behalf of the whole Morningside community. I'm very grateful for all you do for us. Scott Smith
    Hide reply (1)
    • Susan2020 2 months ago
      By what authority have you become the spokesman for "the greater good of the Morningside neighborhood"? Also, earlier this year the City Council denied a variance request by a builder with property on Ashcroft - that denial was based on the interests of that property's immediate neighbors.
  • Kathy 2 months ago
    After listening to the many comments last night (May 5) which brought up even more reasons not to approve this variance I hope the council will finally stand up to Orion and stick with the original deal. Most that spoke against this last night were neighbors immediately impacted by this variance (if allowed) and their opinions should count the most. As usual in the past hearings involving Orion those that support it do NOT live in an area impacted by the parking. Spack and Carlson seemed to be very short on answers to some of the great questions asked about the delivery trucks...take out spaces...social distancing and many more. Please vote no and thank you for your careful consideration of this request.
  • ZFamEdina 2 months ago
    I support the variance. This project will bring wonderful new amenities to the area including a high end restaurant that fits the character and prestige of the neighborhood. From what I have seen, there is more parking at this site - between on site and adjacent available stalls - than many comparable developments. I hope the City acts in the long term interest of the public by approving the variance.
  • townesrd 2 months ago
    I am requesting the City Council approve the variance for The Lorient Project. The neighborhood will benefit from approving the variance.
  • Susan2020 2 months ago
    To the City Council: The Planning Commission put a lot of stock in the 4500 France developer’s statement that the parking garage door that opens onto Sunnyside will be re-designed to eliminate left turns out. But the Commission erred in not asking for any details of just what this re-design would be, and I hope the Council will not repeat this error. ---- Traffic safety is a huge issue that accompanies this request to nearly triple the seats allowed at this restaurant, especially now that we realize that 100-seat total does not include restaurant seats outdoors. The developer has provided no description or drawings of this garage door “re-design” so it’s impossible to judge how effective it might be in keeping westbound traffic off Sunnyside. This is too important for the city to take a “we’ll work out the details later” approach. --- One thing important to note is that this garage door is directly across the street from the Convention Grill’s parking area. That means cars exiting the development’s garage door could simply drive across Sunnyside into the Convention Grill lot, make u-turns there and then proceed to take a right turn out onto Sunnyside and drive west. Any “re-design” that could be so easily thwarted would be worthless. Some sort of solid barrier that really prevents efforts to maneuver around it is the only solution. --- Earlier this year, you received copies of email exchanges with city officials showing that the city intended to have this traffic diversion built, but failed to follow through and include it in the development agreement. That was when the restaurant was to have only 35 seats. Do not magnify this error by approving a 100-seat restaurant with a last-minute claim by the developer that he will “re-design” this garage exit without providing any details or drawings of it. --- There are plenty of parking-related reasons to deny this variance. This traffic management concern is another reason to say no.
  • MMH 2 months ago
    I am asking that City Council deny the variance for The Lorient project. I am rather frustrated that this variance is being entertained and that 4 of the 6 Planning Commissioners recommended that the variance be approved. Mr Carlson agreed, in order to get his project approved, to a 35 seat restaurant. Council Members I would like to begin by responding to the Variance Questionnaire that Mr Carlson provides in his packet. 1. Relieve practical difficulties in complying with the zoning ordinance and that the use is reasonable Mr Carlson writes that 36 public stalls are 13% better than retail code. It is my understanding that those 36 public stalls are considered District Parking. They are not all just for the Lorient. He further states that if the Lorient was allowed to include the 7 on street parking stalls that are “in front” of the project along Sunnyside it would increase to 34% better than retail code. The 7 parking spaces are on a public road and those spots are used by the patrons of other nearby businesses. I was wondering how the neighboring businesses felt about this variance and I see a comment from the owner of the Convention Grill that they are not in favor of the variance. Mr Carlson goes on to state that the Edina Restaurant parking ratio requirement places an unreasonable parking requirement within urban re-development use. Mr Carlson was aware of this ratio and made an agreement with the City of Edina to reduce the size of the purposed restaurant from 135 seats to 35 seats. If having a 110 seat restaurant was an important aspect of this development Mr Carlson should have made the necessary changes to his building plan to be able to provide enough parking to satisfy the Edina Restaurant parking ratio requirement. Of course this would have have come at significant financial cost to the developer. Please note he does reference in this paragraph that “The Lorient provides a practical solution by offering public parking to support the project and area needs.” Not the case if the restaurant is relying on those parking spots. 2. Correct extraordinary circumstances applicable to this property but not applicable to other property in the vicinity or district.Mr Carlson writes that The Lorient is being singled out to to follow the Edina Restaurant parking ratio. Allowing him to put in a restaurant that is short parked is only going to add to the parking issues in the area. In fact The Lorient was to provide 36 district parking spaces to help alleviate the parking shortage in the area. He writes about that “practical solution” in the paragraph above. 3. Be in harmony with the general purposes and intent of the zoning ordinance Mr Carlson states that he accepted the 35 seat restaurant as he was uncertain if a restaurant would be the best use of the space. That is an outright lie. It was always in the plans to have a large, 100 seat plus, restaurant at this location. He states that a 3700 sf restaurant with 35 seats was approved. At a meeting Mr Carlson held at Edina Cleaners, back in the planning stages, I asked him what the rent would be for the restaurant his response, $100,000 a year. Not sure what 35 seat restaurant could afford that amount of rent. He agreed to the 35 seat restaurant in order to get the building passed. A deal is a deal and it frustrates me that this issue is being revisited. 4. Not alter the essential character of the neighborhoodA 100 seat restaurant will absolutely alter the character of the neighborhood by attracting more traffic and on street parking. If this restaurant is going to be successful it will need patrons that live beyond the walkable neighborhoods. OtherMr Carlson further states that the Lorient was designed to encourage pedestrian access and public transportation. I live on the 4600 block of France Ave and I have been tremendously inconvenienced by this project and my walkability to the businesses surrounding 44th and France. I have to cross France Ave twice, once illegally to get to the businesses. He is unwilling to give up parking spaces in the building even though the building is over parked for the amount of apartments. Further he cannot anticipate that the restaurant staff would walk, bike or use public transportation. He states that the Lorient encourages bicycle, strollers and pedestrian traffic. That may be the case for 6 months of the year here in MN. What about the other 6 months? He has made an attempt to secure parking around the area. With the exception of the Gateway property the parking he has secured is only going add to traffic as drivers try and find the parking lots. The parking study done makes a lot of assumptions. No facts and does not include the outside seating. It also does not include any mention on where guest of the Lorient residents will park. I think it is safe to assume that the Lorient residents will entertain and have visitors. Most likely during the peak restaurant times. Are you aware that the Lorient website mentions a Clubroom that can accommodate over 25 people. Where will all those guest park? Is this clubroom only for residents and their guest or will it be available to rent out to non Lorient residents and/or businesses?
  • Sunny_side 2 months ago
    This variance is not only a bad deal for neighbors in Morningside, who already contend with on-street parking shortages and traffic safety concerns. It’s a bad deal for other small businesses in our neighborhood that will be disadvantaged. And perhaps most important, it’s a bad financial deal for all Edina taxpayers. The developer is receiving over $2.2 million in public tax increment financing, partly in exchange for the “public benefit” of others (including neighboring businesses) being able share 36 parking spaces on his site. The restaurant was limited to 35 seats.Now, after the project’s new building and its parking areas are almost finished, the developer wants a 100-seat restaurant and a variance from parking requirements. The 36 spaces would no longer be shared, but taken up by customers of the larger restaurant. That erases the “public benefit” of these spaces – the deal that gave the developer the $2.2 million in public financing in the first place. The TIF did not contemplate allowing this additional “private benefit” (65 more restaurant seats without having to provide additional on-site parking). This translates into increased value of the property that was not considered when the TIF deal was made, and is at the taxpayers expense. Please consider the facts and deny this variance request.
    Hide Replies (3)
    • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
      First, several neighboring business owners have come out in support of this measure. Several more made agreements with the developer to provide additional parking - in essence doing more (as business owners) to further the district parking goal than the city has done. So clearly several of the other businesses do NOT think its a "bad deal". Second, urban planning studies consistently show that businesses do better when they are surrounded by other successful businesses. The shops in and around the district will greatly benefit from having increased consumer focus in the district brought about by the proposed restaurant. Third, the best way to recover and gain return on the public financing for this project is to have a right-sized restaurant that will generate sales tax, employment taxes and income taxes. The Convention Grill is 96 seats, clearly this neighborhood can support a restaurant the size of which is being proposed. Finally, as for land values - both commercial AND residential - values in the district will go UP - for all owners - as redevelopment occurs, not down. Every single property for sale in Country Club or Sunnyside or White Oaks or Morningside lists - as BENEFIT - the walkability to 44th and France. As for commercial real estate, the land will be worth MORE to current owners if new developers know that they are going to be able to right-size projects and won't have to allocate unnecessary amounts of space (on constrained lots) just to meet an outdated parking code restriction.
      Hide Replies (2)
      • Morningsider 2 months ago
        I direct your attention to previous comments here by Roberta Thorpe (owner of the Convention Grill area parking space) and Zingale Ventures (owner of the dental building across Sunnyside). They don't appear to share your view that they will "greatly benefit."
        Hide reply (1)
        • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
          Please show me where I said that opinion or viewpoint was unanimous...
  • TRoddis 2 months ago
    I strongly urge the City Council to stand by their previous decisions and deny the variance requested by the developers of the Lorient project that would enable them to increase the amount of restaurant space from 35 to 100 seats. Questions of the pros and cons of a larger versus a smaller restaurant, or the sort of operator that might be attracted to spaces of various sizes, have already been addressed. The developer accepted the current 35 seat limit prior to breaking ground, and there has been no change of circumstances that has created some new hardship to justify this variance.City staff has twice recommended that this variance request be denied because the developer's proposed solutions have not met city requirements for parking availability, and furthermore, the developer's proposed solutions are very short term while the variance is a permanent change that stays with the land with no requirement for renewal, regardless of changes in ownership or restaurant tenant.What should be of even greater concern to Edina residents is the fact that the developer was given two chances to propose virtually the same variance request to the Planning Commission which approved it on the second hearing. A year ago when the 50th & France Small Area Plan was under consideration, it originally contained language that "invited" developers to apply for variances if they wanted to exceed the restrictions on building height and density which were already being relaxed significantly to the concern of many residents. Residents who pointed out that this guidance to developers not only undermined the height and density restrictions but seemed to indicate a certain "flexibility" in the rules, were told by City Council members that they just needed to trust their city officials. This language was later removed.Is Edina the paragon of good government (and good schools) that we like to think it is? Or are we sliding into more of a Chicago-style model of "how things get done"? Are the public hearings, and the rules, a show for suckers? I hope not, but I will be looking for an answer in the City Council's decision.Tom Roddis4512 Bruce Ave
  • Sunnysidesunshine 2 months ago
    Inexplicably, construction workers have parked on Sunnyside again today. Their parking on the street in the neighborhood is a better indicator of parking habits in our neighbor than any confusing Spack Consulting Report. If the developer can not even communicate to his own construction crew about not parking in the neighborhood, what would make anyone think a piecemeal parking plan scrapped together would work? Obviously, it wouldn't work. The intersection at France and Sunnyside is wide open today. Obviously, people like to park where it is most convenient. I do remember the developer promising no construction workers would park on resident's streets. So much for promises....
  • timhoneill 2 months ago
    We live in Edina and would love to have this new restaurant. We agree with BBruesho, who lives three blocks away from this location: "The approval of this full service, locally-owned and authentic restaurant will be a tremendous amenity to the area. The developer has stated that they have 36 stalls onsite and 15 adjacent stalls without including any on street parking (re: 7 stalls immediately in front of the restaurant). That equals 51 stalls. Assume 2 people per car = 102 people. That is enough capacity in even the busiest of times. After 5pm, including all leased stalls by adjacent businesses, there are 79 stalls. Plenty!For those who are so opposed to the variance, be careful what you wish for. If this variance is not passed we are almost guaranteed to have a miserable 35-seat quick service / chain restaurant, drug store, bank, or the like. Not only would these result in an equal amount of traffic (if not more traffic due to higher customer turnover), but they offer extremely little in terms of quality of life, charm or enhancement to the neighborhood. We don't need another dentist or CVS pharmacy or 35-seat Subway! This building and 100 seat capacity restaurant will be a tremendous addition to our community." We are also in support of this and the proposed variance.
    Hide Replies (7)
    • Susan2020 2 months ago
      These kind of "be careful what you wish for" comments are crafted to intimidate opponents of this variance and have no place on this comment board. I have flagged your comment. This is exactly the kind of tactic that the developer's supporters used when this project was first being proposed - that opponents better keep their mouths shut because if we blocked any of these plans, things could turn out a lot worse and we'd be sorry. As to the content of your comment, a CVS or any kind of drug store would likely want a drive-up window, something that would almost surely not be approved by the city. CVS tried to build a store several years ago on the property across the street where the gas station and the building that eventually became the co-op are located and was not allowed to do so because of the drive-up window issue. As for a fast food outlet, the developer would not install anything like that in a luxury apartment building. Remember, this is the same project where the three little affordable units are segregated into their own wing, away from the main entrance. The developer is not going to install a fast food joint with plastic chairs as a centerpiece, where the luxury apartment residents would have to see it and pass by it every day. Stop trying to scare people with made-up scenarios.
      Hide Replies (6)
      • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
        Removed by moderator.
        Hide Replies (5)
        • Susan2020 2 months ago
          Actually, we do have evidence. Neighbors have photographs and videos of 4500 France construction workers parking in front of our homes - other posters on this comment board have said this. I actually have experienced this and have photos of a huge construction vehicle, crammed with all kinds of construction supplies, parked in front of my home this week. I will be posting photos of this - a specific violation of the development agreement - on the city's website in the next couple days. Keep in mind that all this encroachment on neighborhood streets is occurring while businesses are closed and their parking lots are completely empty due to the Covid 19 shutdown. Imagine the scene when these businesses reopen.
          Hide Replies (4)
          • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
            And I have evidence showing parked cars in the neighborhood on weekends and in the evenings (during the lockdown). Evidence that supports that parking IS part of the character of the neighborhood already. Last night - Saturday - there were more than 20 cars parked on Sunnyside, Curve and 44th (within a block of the development). Arguing that 3-4 more cars suddenly is impactful doesn’t hold water. I’ll be posting as well!
            Hide Replies (3)
            • jkj966 2 months ago
              Yes, residential parking, not commercial. If anything, your post suggests that residents use the street parking in front of their homes, which supports residents' concerns about commercial parking spilling into the neighborhood. Susan also points out a specific type of parking -- construction vehicles that are in violation of the development agreement. It's a different issue.
              Hide Replies (2)
              • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
                The argument has been - at least in part - that “parking changes the character of the neighborhood”. That’s clearly false, as parking is clearly part of the character of the neighborhood, just as the proximity to the commercial district has always been a part of the character of the neighborhood.As for construction vehicles, that’s an entirely separate issue.
              • Morningsider 2 months ago
                You are correct in making the distinction between residential and commercial parking. Residents may have parties or guests over to their homes from time to time. Like all Edina residents, we should have the ability to have our guests park in front of our homes, not make them park blocks away because those spaces are occupied by customers of a commercial business.
  • jlonnquist 2 months ago
    I ask the City Council to deny this variance request, yet I consider myself a YIMBY rather than a NIMBY. Like so many others on this board opposing the developer’s request, I participated in the development of the Small Area Plan for the France and 44th commercial hub. I said yes to development and yes to increased density and building height because I understood that future development would be done in a manner that explicitly commits to preserving “the village-like character of the area” and to providing agreed elements of collective public good in return for building beyond existing zoning restrictions. This plan received city recognition last May for its extensive citizen and volunteer input that resulted in a good-faith compromise by all parties to guide the development of 44th and France in Edina. In the first application of this Small Area Plan, the Lorient agreed to provide 36 public parking stalls to help address parking shortages for all businesses, current and future, in the area. Those parking stalls can be used by patrons of Hello Pizza, Convention Grill, and future restaurants that I am excited to see developed in this area. They are not reserved for patrons of the Lorient’s restaurant and might also be used by visitors to Lorient residents. The reason people like me are so disturbed by the developer’s repeated application and the planning commission’s approval of it -- with even fewer conditions than City staff suggested -- is that it negates the Small Area Plan blueprint that our elected officials approved to guide all development in our neighborhood. The developer understood the Council’s explicit 35-seat cap on restaurant capacity, accepted $2.2 million in tax increment financing, and then broke ground. I truly hope that the City Council will carefully consider the interests of nearby residents and existing businesses (such as the Convention Grill property owner who commented below) when it meets this Tuesday. Their decision sets a critical precedent: will Small Area Plans and existing city codes be honored as we increase development and density in our city, or not?
    Hide reply (1)
    • jkj966 2 months ago
      So well stated. Thank you.
  • WCDBE 2 months ago
    Please deny the variance. Your decisions regarding this project have been thoughtfully made and there is no legally justifiable reason to revisit them, including staff recommendations to not change what has been decided. Approving the variance benefits ONLY the developer. Can our city council be trusted to stand by the rules and decisions that it has already made? This is about trust.
  • Admin Commented Emily Bodeker 2 months ago
    Hi, my name is Linda Smith, and I live at 4519 Bruce Ave. S. I don’t think that when a company builds a building, and they’re know what they’re going to put in, that after all is said and done, that they come back and ask for a parking variance. It will have a negative effect on the homeowners around that area. There isn’t enough parking down there now and so giving them a variance to have even fewer stalls is not a good idea. Thank you very much. - Entered by City Staff
  • Admin Commented Emily Bodeker 2 months ago
    My name is Ann Moarn and I am a resident of White Oaks on Meadow Road. I am in favor of granting them the parking variance request. We would love to have a walkable restaurant in the area and I feel that the parking situation that they are working on is great. I am hoping that you will grant them the variance. Thank you. - Entered by City Staff
  • Admin Commented Emily Bodeker 2 months ago
    My name is Paula Sell and I live at 4508 Grimes Ave. S., and I am asking that the Planning Commission please deny the parking stall variance at 4500 France Ave. S. new development. Our neighborhood simply does not have enough room to change a restaurant from 35 seats to 100 and have parking for all of these additional cars. The intersection is unsafe as it is. The building is much larger than our neighborhood was told it was going to be and it is truly an eye sore. It is not fair for the developer to now change the parameters of the project this late in the game. Thank you. - Entered by City Staff
  • Admin Commented Emily Bodeker 2 months ago
    My name is Roberta Thorpe, I reside at 6804 Cornelia Drive and I am the owner of the Convention Grill property. I am opposed to the 4500 France Ave. proposal because I feel that any parking in this area is very essential to each and every business. To decrease parking would not be a good idea. I think the request is extreme. I believe that the original plan that City Council, Planning Commission, and the neighborhood approved should be followed through on. I think that wanting fewer parking spaces and a bigger restaurant is an unreasonable request. What they’re proposing is to have various locations nearby where their overflow or parking could be resolved and I would like to know if they have signed parking contracts or leases with these other businesses? It seems like a very impractical idea because people are creature of habit and they are not going to be walking from 44th Street, down an alley or across France Ave., to a restaurant. I do not want their overflow parking to go north of Sunnyside Road into the Convention Grill’s “Customer Only” parking area. All of the businesses over there are privately owned for parking and are not just for anyone to park there. Please do not give the public the impression that all of it is available to them. Please get permission from the owners before you start talking about all the parking available behind the Convention Grill and those other properties. Thank you for your time. - Entered by City Staff
  • Admin Commented Emily Bodeker 2 months ago
    My name is Michael Gair and my wife and I have lived at 4615 Ewing Ave. S., Minneapolis, for 50 years. We have the following concerns regarding the parking stall variance request. Since 1974, I have provided professional consultant services and guidance to local, regional, and national land development clients including Ron Clark Construction and Design. In this capacity, I have prepared and processed land development applications including Comprehensive Plan issues, zoning, subdivisions, environmental review, annexation, and public infrastructure design. These land development applications have been reviewed and scrutinized by municipalities, townships, counties, Metropolitan Council, state agencies, FEMA, and others as may be required. Throughout my 46 years of providing guidance and advocacy, I have vigorously dissuaded my clients from seeking city ordinance variances. My experience based advise and professional opinion are premised on the fact that a variance request must by underpinned by irrefutable evidence that ordinance compliance will cause hardship, not mere inconvenience or financial issues or whimsy capriciousness. Orion’s requested parking variance is based on a fallacious premise exacerbated by the architectural floorplan design and seating capacity of the restaurant. This variance is not a hardship caused by Edina’s parking ordinance, rather the variance request is a result of an ill-conceived restaurant seating plan. Orion’s “remote off street parking opportunities” proposal is an unmitigated desperate remedy to capitalize on an over ambitious restaurant seating plan. It is very important to note that Orion’s proposed off street parking opportunities plan states to 24 stalls available at Dr. Steven Beaker’s parking lot, when in fact, there are only 15 spaces. There are 9 fewer than stated by Orion. There is also an interest that 34% (one third of Orion’s parking opportunities) are located in the city of Minneapolis, a peculiar irony. To conclude, compliance with Edina’s parking requirements will require reducing the restaurant’s seating. The city ordinance does not establish a hardship. The perceived hardship is imposed by Orion. We respectfully request the city deny Orion’s application. Failure to do deny may set an unprecedented parking ordinance quagmire for the city. Thank you. - Entered by City Staff
  • Beanandro 2 months ago
    As tenants of the developer, we have appreciated having a local landlord who cares about our business and also about developing relationships in our community. We feel the use of the spaces in our lot and in a nearby lot after hours could relieve any pressure increased restaurant seating would have.
  • SunnysideResident 2 months ago
    Removed by moderator.
    Hide Replies (6)
    • Sunnysidesunshine 2 months ago
      Using the term NIMBY is really insulting and dismissive. Especially towards your neighbors commenting here! Concerns over traffic and parking are real issues that need to be acknowledged with real solutions. The neighbors have the right to be concerned and to comment here. (I might also add that financial benefit is legally not a reason to have a variance approved.) It is not the restaurant that I see people objecting to but rather the lack of parking, the fact that there is not a good way to communicate the piecemeal parking plan, the amount of increased traffic and the inevitable circling of cars looking for parking spaces. Amazingly, not one person on the Planning Commission talked about the construction workers parking on Sunnyside all week this past week. That was a better indicator of future parking than any projection from the confusing Spack parking report. Where was the developer this week communicating his parking plan to his own workers. At least one worker told me no one ever talked about parking ever.... If he was not interested in communicating to his own workers, what makes anyone think he is going to communicate to the patrons of this restaurant? When the deal is done and the restaurant opens who protects the neighbors then? That is why people are commenting and working so hard to protect our neighborhood NOW!! I really believe that should be respected. And, seriously you should really look up the true meaning of NIMBY!
    • Susan2020 2 months ago
      As the other reply to your comment noted, NIMBY is a pejorative term, an offensive stereotype - a slur. The purpose of this comment board is too discuss the merits of the variance request, not engage in name-calling. I have flagged your comment so that it may be removed by the moderator. And I have sent a separate email to the Mayor and City Manager, with the complete text of your offensive remarks.
      Hide Replies (4)
      • SunnysideResident 2 months ago
        Required Resubmit- As stated below, the most attractive features of this neighborhood include the walk-ability to grocer, shops, and restaurants. The proposal by Orion not only fits into the 44th & France small area plan, but the developer has gone above and beyond to reasonably accommodate the "Neighborhood opposition". A 35-seat restaurant is not financially viable in 3,500sf in a new building, 100 seats is much more appropriate. In addition, the project has 36 dedicated parking stalls within the building footprint and is located on a major transportation node that is France Ave. The Planning Commission made the appropriate vote to approve the variances and City Council should follow suit. Now lets hope that the restaurant operator sticks with us and has a successful opening with all of our support.
        Hide reply (1)
        • jkj966 2 months ago
          "The developer has gone above and beyond to reasonably accommodate the 'Neighborhood opposition'"? The public has gone above and beyond to accommodate the developer's project, including over $2.2 million in tax increment financing. The project does not have 36 "dedicated" parking stalls. The developer granted a public easement on these stalls as part of the TIF agreement, meaning these stalls can be used by the general public visiting the area. The developer also agreed to a 35-seat restaurant. It would have been obvious to most anyone at the time that a 35-seat restaurant in an about 3,500 sq. ft. space would not be economically feasible. It strikes me that most of those urging the PC to reject the variance did so on the basis of legal standards for variances, what the developer agreed to as conditions of approval, and reliance on the decisions made during the public process. Most of those urging approval of the variance did so on the basis of wanting a restaurant and thinking it would be a nice addition to the neighborhood. When it comes to the city exercising its authority, liking or wanting something, thinking it's a good idea, thinking it conforms to a plan, should take the back seat to an objective, rational review and application of the facts and standards (such as city codes).
      • bbruesho 2 months ago
        I'm sorry if this term offended you. I'm not sure what other context you're referring to other than the definition of the term, which in this context I used correctly: "opposition to the locating of something considered undesirable in one's neighborhood" (source: Merriam-Webster.com; et al). My opinion and feeling is that there is tremendous opposition by a loud few on this board which unjustly and unfairly skews what the greater majority are, in fact, in favor of taking place in the neighborhood. At any rate, we will now look ahead & look forward to the final decision by the City Council. Thank you.
        Hide reply (1)
        • jkj966 2 months ago
          This is not about what the majority thinks, one way or another. It is about whether the request meets the standards of a variance. It doesn't. NIMBY is pejorative. "A loud few" is insulting. Until the silent, uninvolved majority weighs in, we can't know their opinions.
  • bbruesho 2 months ago
    We are in SUPPORT of the proposed variance. The approval of this full service, locally-owned and authentic restaurant will be a tremendous amenity to the area. Parking is a non issue. The developer has stated that they have 36 stalls onsite and 15 adjacent stalls WITHOUT including any on street parking (re: 7 stalls immediately in front of the restaurant). That equals 51 stalls. Assume 2 people per car = 102 people. That is enough capacity in even the busiest of times. After 5 PM, including all leased stalls by adjacent businesses, there are 79 stalls. PLENTY!We are within 3 blocks and will WALK to the restaurant as will undoubtedly many of the regular patrons. Data shows that Convention Grill estimates 20-25% of their traffic is on foot. We can reasonably assume that the number of locals arriving without a car will certainly result in a net positive for available parking. At a certain point, adding an overabundance of stalls will only facilitate further car ridership to the restaurant which is, ultimately, exactly the opposite of what everyone wants (re: less traffic!). There must be a push-pull balance of just enough stalls but not too many. We are pleased by the developer's agreement to incorporate "no left turn" measures onto Sunnyside - as well as the consideration of a crosswalk on Sunnyside (we have a small child and this is therefore appreciated). These two changes to the original plan seem like very reasonable solutions...a sign of compromise and willingness to work with the community on win-win solutions whenever possible. For those who are so opposed to the variance, be careful what you wish for! If this variance is not passed we are almost guaranteed to have a miserable 35-seat quick service / chain restaurant, drug store, bank, or the like. Not only would these result in an equal amount of traffic (if not MORE traffic due to higher customer turnover), but they offer extremely little in terms of quality of life, charm or enhancement to the neighborhood. We don't need another dentist or CVS pharmacy or 35-seat Subway! We live in a beautiful, walkable, vibrant area with commerce on our doorstep. This building and 100 seat capacity restaurant will be a tremendous addition to our community. We hope that those holding antiquated NIMBY attitudes ("not in my backyard") will take a step back, a deep breath, and consider the many positives of the project instead of the micro, fear-based resistance. There's a lot of good that is about to happen at 4500 France Ave and we're excited for it to all be done and open for business!
    Hide Replies (4)
    • Susan2020 2 months ago
      It is very unlikely the developer would ever put a CVS in there without a drive-up window - it couldn't possibly go in there now without having to go through a whole new set of traffic studies, city approvals, etc. The developer is not going to put a Subway in a luxury apartment building - especially since this same developer OWNS the property where a competitor, Milios, is just across the street.
      Hide Replies (2)
      • bbruesho 2 months ago
        It’s an example, Susan. I don’t literally mean CVS or Subway...although, you never know. It seems that you have some strong alternative ideas of what you want to see here, correct? A 35-seat full service restaurant notwithstanding.
        Hide reply (1)
        • Sunnysidesunshine 2 months ago
          I think you need to look up what NIMBY means before you go slinging insults at your neighbors.
    • SunnysideResident 2 months ago
      Well stated and fortunately the Planning Commission agreed. This will be a great addition to the neighborhood.
  • Loveedina 2 months ago
    Many of us have been stuck inside our homes for almost two months. I’m excited to get outside in our community and meet friends at local restaurants and parks. Why are we arguing about a few parking spots? Support the project and support one another. Stay safe and healthy.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Clay 2 months ago
      We are supporting our community! We are trying to keep it safer!
  • Anne Olson 2 months ago
    We recently moved to the Morningside neighborhood and one of the most attractive features was walkability and access to shops and restaurants. I fully support the variance, and believe the use as a restaurant is complimentary to the current neighborhood uses. The diversity of the uses along France Avenue and mixture of multifamily, owned residential and commercial are what creates a neighborhood that can be a destination for visitors and desirability for those looking to call it home. The benefits of allowing the variance far outweigh the potential for infrequent accommodations related to traffic and parking. I am pleased with the project to date and hope to see it used to its fullest potential.
    Hide Replies (3)
    • Clay 2 months ago
      The/A restaurant is coming regardless of the approval. Denying this “variance” means you and the rest of our neighbors will be safer on our walks or bike rides.
      Hide Replies (2)
      • Anne Olson 2 months ago
        There is no guarantee of a restaurant, as financial feasibility for small businesses depend on number of customers that can be served. I’m in favor of the project with the variance.
        Hide reply (1)
        • Clay 2 months ago
          There are several other successful restaurants on that corner with about 35 seats. I don’t think you can claim that the additional seats are needed for “financial feasibility.”
  • Dlgervais 2 months ago
    I have lived in the Country Club neighborhood for 20 years. We love the walk ability of this area and we fully support access to what appears to be another great restaurant. Having some experience with this in the past, the number of seats can make or break a restaurant financially. That corner on France Avenue can support the additional parking in my opinion. Please allow the parking Variance so that we can continue to walk to a vibrant area with a new restaurant in our community.
  • Chris Dall 2 months ago
    I just don't think this plan is all that much different from the original variance request, and I don't think many people are going to check the restaurant website to see where they can park. If people can't park in the Lorient lot, they will naturally look for parking in the neighborhood. I appreciate the efforts the developer has made to make this more amenable to the neighborhood and the city, but I still think the variance request should be denied.
  • Chris Pardo 2 months ago
    You can see my house in the picture above. We chose this Morningside neighborhhood over living closer to 50th and France. We would really prefer to have a smaller funky restaurant rather than a bigger one and while Tinto would be great, I don't trust what could come into a bigger space down the road for some reason Tinto moves on. Ultimately, the resubmitted application doesn’t justify a variance. The zoning ordinance makes sense to me, this has already been looked at again. So let's reject this effort to squeeze in more restaurant seats than the 4500 France building planned to support with parking. This is a problem of the developer’s own making. The developer chose to develop this giant building and now needs to operate it within our laws. Nothing personal at all, just don't want that level of action going down a block from my house.
  • jd0331 2 months ago
    I have worked with Orion on a previous project. Ted Carlson and Orion company have been exemplary examples of what forward thinking AND consideration for others looks like. I know first hand how tirelessly hard he and Orion have worked to accommodate everyone in the redevelopment of the neighborhood and this project specifically. It is incredibly difficult to balance the emotional desires of the neighborhood residents with simple economics. Orion has repeatedly tried to ensure the welfare of the neighbors while keeping the project economically feasible. Further, I have personally witnessed their compassion for others during the pandemic. Orion has worked beyond their obligations to help others in need during this time. Their company has shown on multiple occasions how to be a very considerate neighbor and progressive thinker. Let’s work together to find a reasonable compromise by supporting the necessary variance in order to complete this project properly. Orion will continue to work to ensure a mutual benefit as an upstanding neighbor. I believe that most people will agree that supporting the variance will be a very positive long term decision. Let’s help them get this to completion.
    Hide reply (1)
    • SDean36 2 months ago
      As Hiram357 notes below "Lake Harriet Lodge #277 has no agreement with The Lorient to use our private property parking lot for a future restaurant, and their submission should be adjusted accordingly." This type of information DOES NOT match what Orion Investments has included in the proposal. The developer has this property listed as one of the properties he's negotiated with to take care of the additional parking needed. The property owner is saying no such agreement exists. This is not progressive thinking or a good way to build trust with a community. At this point I'm even more concerned about everything else that's being promised. This request should be denied just as it was in February.
  • Hiram357 2 months ago
    Lake Harriet Lodge #277 has no agreement with The Lorient to use our private property parking lot for a future restaurant, and their submission should be adjusted accordingly.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Susan2020 2 months ago
      What does this say about the rest of the content of the developer's application, what other misleading statements it might contain? Thank you, Hiram357, for making this clarification.
    • Sunnysidesunshine 2 months ago
      WOW!!
  • briggsb 2 months ago
    Please deny the request for a variance for this property. Much time and effort was put into the original agreement by the neighborhood. I do not believe that people will find some of the new parking that the developer is listing such as the spots at dp Hue. It is too far away. Many of us would like to see a restaurant come in to the area but not at the price the neighborhood would have to pay. Some think many of the patrons of the restaurant will walk or ride bikes and that may be true in the summer. I do not believe people will be biking or walking at night during the winter months. Look at the area around Red Cow to see that people do not walk, ride bikes or Uber. They drive and park in the neighborhood. Please do not pass this variance.
  • Richard Schmidt 2 months ago
    There seems to be a never-ending stream of requests for zoning variance from the developer of the Lorient building at 4500 France Avenue South. Very little has changed in their request. The original building permit gave permission for a 36-seat restaurant. The developer knew the feelings of the neighborhood and the issues at 45th and France that led to that decision. None of that has changed. No rationalization can change that. There are traffic problems at that corner, parking issues and safety concerns. A one hundred seat restaurant will make matters worse and that will not change in the near future. All those conditions were present when the developer agreed to the permit. The building is not even complete. Maybe it is better to make those decisions after construction is done and see how the area functions. The Planning Commission and the City Council should reject the new request. There is a saying,“Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Both parties should stand by the original commitment. It is unfair to compare Sunnyside Road at France Avenue to 50th and France Avenue or other areas of development as each is unique.The Problems:*TrafficThe increased traffic on Sunnyside Road, 44th Street, and France Avenue that will be created by the Lorient itself let alone a 100 seat restaurant is without a solution, not now nor in the future. I can see no engineering designs that can fix those intersections.*SafetyAs the traffic and congestion increases so does the concern for safety in the adjacent neighborhoods. Cars pass down Sunnyside Road constantly at unsafe speeds to avoid 50th and France Avenue. There are many young children in this area making it unsafe for them to cross the street. The congestion will make it more unfriendly to bicycle and pedestrian use.*ParkingThis is clearly an issue but a 100-seat restaurant will not solve that. The Lorient does not offer sufficient on-site parking and that is not going to change no matter how many parking agreements they sign. It is the patrons that make the parking decisions and they will always choose what they feel is most convenient. That does not include the parking on France Avenue and the Masonic Building which are already heavily used by the adjacent businesses. Furthermore, it is hazardous to cross France Avenue at night. The parking behind the offices on 44th Street and Sunnyside Road has never been used and stands empty every night because they are inconvenient and patrons choose to park on Sunnyside Road. There is nothing to stop patrons from parking behind the offices, now, but they don’t. Sunnyside Road is used by all the current business owners for their parking and that will not change. Patrons will still choose Sunnyside Road but it will become more difficult.In summary, nothing has changed since the original building permit was issued and no valid solutions have been offered to change the original permit. The request for a 100 seat restaurant should be denied. Richard and Judith Schmidt
  • Obvek 2 months ago
    No brainer...keep the community strong and flourishing by providing flexibility to a great addition to the neighborhood. Laws and codes change all the time because they become out of date and irrelevant to the current landscape. Give them the green light!
    Hide Replies (3)
    • jkj966 2 months ago
      There is a process for changing laws. If the governing laws are outdated, change them. It's not like Edina's outdated parking code hasn't been a topic of discussion for a long time (it has been). Finding ways to skirt around outdated code provisions is in part how we got here (PUD).
      Hide Replies (2)
      • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
        Code also allows for the request and approval of variances. Two weeks ago a variance was approved at 4532 France Avenue. There was a pre-approved plan (one that already - in fact - had a variance approved). The owner wanted to expand their office space without adding parking spaces. The approval was for parking that covered 61% of required parking (by code). That request was not widely opposed as is this restaurant, and the Commission approved the recommendation a variance. How is that any different than the current request, less than 100 yards away with the exact same set of circumstances?
        Hide reply (1)
        • Clay 2 months ago
          I don’t think anyone has opposed a restaurant. They have opposed 65 more seats and associated traffic in a highly congested corner. I would love another restaurant, with the originally planned 35 seats.
  • Clay 2 months ago
    Poor planning on the developers part does not necessitate the zoning laws be substantially excused. Having worked for a large developing company, I can say that the developer most certainly factored in the possibility that space could be limited to the 35 seat occupancy when moving forward with the project. These aren’t the factors that are unforeseen. The developer took a gamble. I can only assume the developer thought that the community would be exhausted from the continued assaults on the neighborhood and zoning laws from this project, that we wouldn’t have the energy at the end to fight for the pre-established terms of agreement. This is not a variance. This is another assault. And I suspect this will not be the last. We will probably see dropping increments of 10 seats until the neighborhood, planning commission, and city council are exhausted from the relentless assaults on zoning. I beg you to please deny this request for a “variance,” and hold the developer accountable to their agreement.
    Hide Replies (3)
    • Sunnysidesunshine 2 months ago
      Thank you, Clay. You hit the nail on the head with your comment.
    • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
      Clay - do you have thoughts on the variance that was just approved at 4532 France Avenue?
      Hide reply (1)
      • Clay 2 months ago
        Yeah, I do. Though, this forum is about 4500 France. Besides, I’m not looking to compare apples and oranges. These projects, property types, and rental spaces aren’t even close to being comparable. This plan needs to be denied.
  • wagner 2 months ago
    We are in support of the variance. As a nearby homeowner with 3 young kids we frequent the area with bikes and walking. Even with the construction trucks and traffic we feel safe and believe the incentive to use bikes and walking is a good one for Edina. The additions of the crosswalk and other items also shows good faith effort by the developer to keep safety in mind. We believe the addition of the proposed restaurant at the current size provides for a much needed option (most others are too small and/or dated) which adds value and attractions to our neighborhood. While I understand many of the arguments, the net benefit of this variance wildly out weighs the downside in my view.
  • RJC 2 months ago
    The current parking variance request for Orion Investment’s “Lorient” project at 4500 France Avenue is symptomatic of a failure to fully embrace the principles and promise of the France/44th Small Area Plan (SAP). Unfortunately, the City of Edina still lacks a comprehensive approach to parking and traffic in the 44th & France development area, and residents, city officials, and developers are paying the price for this omission. The time for implementation of a comprehensive district parking and traffic plan is before developers propose projects. Each time projects and variances are approved, leverage is lost with the ‘give-to-get’ approach that would invite or require developers to participate in district solutions. Residents are witnessing developers promote their own individual projects one-by-one as if those projects are not part of the whole or do not impinge on future development. Significant variance requests either before or after projects are underway threaten to undermine the trust of residents who have much at stake in upholding the promise of the SAP.With regard to the current variance application, it is virtually the same request that the Planning Commission denied at its February 12, 2020 meeting. The current request also should be rejected for several reasons:• A permit for the Lorient project was granted based on the developer’s original request for a 35-seat restaurant. Nearly tripling the size of that request is well beyond a variance—it is a re-conceptualization of the project, either in hindsight or in bad faith.• The proposal to count scattered parking owned by other parties will not significantly reduce customer preference for parking close by. It is predictable that parking on adjacent public streets will be used first if no organized parking is conveniently available. We need to look no further than 50th/France to understand the positive effects of district parking. The contrast between that and Red Cow further east speaks for itself.• Despite representations to the contrary, many clients of a 100-seat restaurant will indeed drive to the location. Future projects—both residential and commercial—will add to the traffic and parking pressure. Without comprehensive solutions, we risk destroying the positive features that make 44th/France a desirable location—a safe, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood feel.• While the proposed restaurant may sound appealing in ambiance and quality, the Planning Commission and the City Council must look beyond the nature of that appeal. Restaurants are known to frequently change ownership or character. And despite the best intentions and efforts of owners, they often go out of business. Please deny this latest request for the variance and immediately focus resources on addressing what is needed most—planning, property acquisition, and construction of a parking solution that will serve everyone well and a comprehensive plan for traffic quieting and control. A true partnership of the council, commissioners, administration, developers, business owners, and residents will result in our best opportunity to implement the intentions of the Small Area Plan for the long-term good of all. Nearby resident
  • jccpato 2 months ago
    To the Planning Commission and the City Council - Please reject the variance requested by this developer. The surrounding neighbors and neighborhood negotiated with this developer in good faith. The developer's variance request negates this good faith. The Planning Commission and the City Council rejected a previous variance in a past hearing this winter to a housing developer who claimed potential profit loss based on the inability to divide a residential lot to build two houses rather than one. In that decision, the Planning Commission and the City Council stated it was not the fault of the city that the developer did not calculate the financial risk correctly. And most members stated they did not feel comfortable taking on the role of real estate risk assessor. There is an argument for the rejection of this variance based on this philosophy and argument. The developer knew exactly what was allowed and what was not allowed before he undertook this project. It is not up to the City or the neighborhood to create a financial safety net for this developer because he realized after the fact he miscalculated potential profits based on a smaller restaurant.
    Hide Replies (3)
    • Sunnysidesunshine 2 months ago
      Great point. If that developer was made to follow the law on how variances are granted in his request to divide one big lot into two separate lots, then the developer at 4500 must also be held to the same law and his request also needs to be denied. The City of Edina cannot pick and choose who the variance law applies to. All applicants need to be held to the same standards.
      Hide Replies (2)
      • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
        The Commission just approved an identical variance at 4532 France Avenue. So if they must make the same decisions and be held to the same standards they must APPROVE the variance this week.
        Hide reply (1)
        • jkj966 2 months ago
          It was a parking stall variance, but not identical. The Lorient site does not have practical difficulties that prevent a reasonable use of the space. Staff and, apparently, the PC found that the 4532 site did.The 4532 owner also sought to convert one use (storage) to a different use (office). The office space was a reasonable use, but required a parking variance. Actual parking utilization data showed existing parking was more than adequate for the change in use. The Lorient project currently has a reasonable use (restaurant) and parking to accommodate that use. It cannot accommodate parking for a 100-seat restaurant on site, but had no practical difficulties before construction that would have prevented that.The examples are not equivalent.
  • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
    Fully support the parking variance for this property. - It is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan for the City of Edina- It is consistent with the Small Area Plan for 44th & France The parking study for the property determined there would be no impact to the nearby neighborhood given the additional secured parking spaces secured by the developer.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Sunnysidesunshine 2 months ago
      I think the "no impact" argument went completely out the window this past week when the entire first block of Sunnyside and the first part of Curve were constantly parked up by construction workers from the 4500 work site. A harbinger of things to come...
  • RCheng 2 months ago
    Please deny this request. The developer needs to follow the law and has created this problem himself.
  • Jason Greene 2 months ago
    Deny this request for a parking variance. We are a family with three young kids who bike and walk by this corner almost every day. We don't need frustrated drivers chaotically searching for parking that doesn't exist and creating a very unsafe area for the many young kids in the area. So many of us in the Country Club and Morningside area would love a neighborhood restaurant. There are many quaint ones in the metro area (i.e. Grand Cafe, Tilia) that don't require having 100 seats. This is about following the law. Deny this request - this is an issue of the developers own making.
  • RH5115 2 months ago
    Our family fully supports the variance. Based on the parking study and in comparison to other restaurants in the area there is more than enough parking being proposed by the developer to support this new restaurant. This project is going to be a wonderful addition to the neighborhood.
  • judyfood 2 months ago
    I oppose this parking variance. When this development was signed on the dotted line the request was for a 35/36 seat restaurant. To come back years after the original contract and seek a variance of increasing this to 110, now 100 shows how disingenuous the developer was in the beginning. The obvious problem for the developer is the city rules regarding parking spaces required for restaurants. The city rules are in place to have reasonable control of development. Developers seek variances, tax breaks, “give to get “ proposals. All that has been done in previous requests and allowances. The request in February was turned down by The Planning Commission and The City Council for good reason. This attempt to show parking available in the general neighborhood really comes down to a suggestion to customers coming to such a restaurant...or any restaurant . First of all, people will not go out of their way to find these suggested places. Secondly, these are suggested as I see no evidence of contracts that guarantee spots. Properties change hands and new owners feel differently or build over said spots. Thirdly, traffic in the area, especially this corner, is already congested and crossings can be challenging for people of any age. If this entire development was smaller and the restaurant parking was included this would not be a problem for the developer now....but of course that is not the situation. I believe the developer has created his own problem. I find it distasteful he wants to shame neighborhood residents for what is great pride and history of a wonderful historic community where people have chosen to live, raise families and be involved in community activity and projects. Livability, safety, community, neighborhood...Yes, the corner needed to be redeveloped and yes there was an agreement/contract signed and in place with all the Edina City rules understood back at that time. The present request that is actually a rerequest should be denied. Judy Schmidt
  • saralathrop 3 months ago
    Please deny the request for a parking stall variance and amendment to development plan. 1. The applicant cannot satisfy the legal requirements for a variance set forth in the statute. There have to be findings that satisfy the elements required by law, which, as the staff recommendation sets forth, it cannot. 2. In February, the Planning Commission voted “no” on this plan. Several commissioners thought it was too big of a restaurant and flatly rejected it. A few commissioners thought Orion might be able to come up with some kind of different proposal that would address the problems associated with parking, traffic and pedestrian safety. Orion has failed to do that. There is nothing in the revised application that shows any binding rights or power to ensure the obvious issue associated with a 100-seat restaurant without adequate parking will not occur. Even the modest parking change (what appears to be handshake deals for parking) are completely unspecified. There is no evidence of legal agreements that run with the properties if the owners or use of the properties change. The application says the parking agreements are, in part, “civic obligations of the property owners,” a vague and meaningless phrase. And the parking agreements for spots in many cases are quite far away from the restaurant. Customers will choose to park in the neighborhood. 3. This development was approved with the explicit limit of 35 restaurant seats. No circumstances have changed since that time to justify the request for a variance and amendment to the plan. Permitting this restaurant to have 100 seats does not advance climate change work. 4. Many existing and valued small businesses in the neighborhood rely on street parking. This would take parking away from those successful businesses. 5. There have been comments that the parking ordinance is too old to enforce. The answer is to amend the ordinance with a full study and public hearing process -- not to simply ignore the ordinance over and over again. Enacting ordinances is how a community does its business in a regular and proper order. 6. In the Edina Magazine piece about this building, Orion said the other retail spaces would likely be a salon and fitness center. Those are businesses where parking turns over slower than a coffee shop or sandwich shop, which was previously suggested. 7. If district parking is ever in place, the developer can propose a larger restaurant and the considerations can be studied. Please enforce our ordinances and reject this application. Thank you.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • saralathrop 3 months ago
      To follow up, I am not saying the parking ordinance should be changed. I am saying it should be followed unless the community decides that circumstances dictate that it should be changed and then, only after the full public process for amending an ordinance has been followed.
      Hide reply (1)
      • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
        What is your opinion of the parking variance that was requested and approved just two weeks ago at 4532 France Avenue? Exact same circumstances, yet approved.
  • Doug Fuerst 2 months ago
    The submitted application doesn't justify a variance .Please respect our zoning ordinance and reject this effort to squeeze in more restaurant seats than the 4500 France building planned to support with parking . This is a problem of the developer's own making. The developer chose to develop this giant building and now needs to operate it within our laws .
    Hide reply (1)
    • rwcmn2020 2 months ago
      Do you have a comment about the variance that was just approved at 4532 France Avenue? Exact same set of circumstances...
  • jkj966 2 months ago
    I get that some who have posted want a larger restaurant, think it would be a good addition, and think the parking will be adequate.It seems that process, resident trust in that process, what the laws say, and what the developer agreed take back seat to "A larger restaurant in this space would be great." (As someone noted, there can be a restaurant under current approvals, but limited to 35 seats.)A section of the zoning code (PUD-15) was written for this project. For those saying the parking code is outdated so the city should be flexible about it, the opportunity for that was when the PUD was drafted. The existing parking code did not have to apply. This is city government. Rules and process matter. Certain findings need to be made for approval of a variance and those findings cannot be made -- no matter how much anyone wants a larger restaurant.
  • Nate 2 months ago
    I support the parking variance as well. It's nice to see a creative solution leveraging under-utilized and synergistic commercial parking. Restaurants need scale to be viable and as an Edina resident, understand the trade offs around more urban-like parking issues. I appreciate the flexibility the Planning Commission has shown to attract businesses (and their tax revenue). We look forward to an improved 44th St corridor and to having another great restaurant option in the City!
  • TSielaff 2 months ago
    I oppose the variance. It is unsupported by the application. And I am looking forward to supporting a properly scaled restaurant in our neighborhood.
  • amck 2 months ago
    I support the variance, this is plenty of parking for the number of seats in the restaurant, especially since the target is neighborhood local dining. It is walkable from a lot of different residential areas so parking will not be an issue. It seems to me the objective of this is to create another neighborhood gathering place. Keep up the great work!
  • Tobiasmckenna 2 months ago
    In a time when small business is under extreme pressure, I believe it is even more important to empower entrepreneurs to help drive our economy towards recovery. Removing outdated and unnecessary rules and regulations will help to eliminate roadblocks to those willing to provide services to our city. I support the proposal put forth in this project because there will still be adequate parking and this is a very accessible location to neighborhoods whose users will walk or bike.
  • LP 2 months ago
    50th and France has all kinds of parking ramps to support the amenities some commenters here have described. 44th and France does not at the present time, which is why a restaurant of this scale is not an appropriate fit. --- And to the people who say they want a restaurant at France and Sunnyside they can walk to, I would say this: The restaurant doesn’t have to have 100 seats for you to walk to it. You can still walk to it if it has 35 seats. --- The city staff, which has no personal stake on this matter, has looked at all the facts and recommended that this variance be denied. I believe the Planning Commission should do the same.
  • Stevie-Arden Ave 2 months ago
    I am supportive of The Lorient Project and the variance. I understand the differing opinions, but for us (a family with 3 young kids) the walkability to restaurants/coffee shops/ etc. is the reason we moved to Edina. This seems like a wonderful addition. We live closer to 50th and France and it seems none of the restaurants, with the exception of Coalition, have anywhere near the parking spaces this project is proposing. In addition, I'd have to imagine a healthy percentage of diners will be walking/biking. Thanks for allowing me to comment and I hope everyone is staying healthy.
  • Brent Rogers 2 months ago
    I am supportive of the parking variance for the Lorient project. I am an Edina resident that lives 4 blocks from 50th and France. We chose to live where we live because of the restaurants, shops, and grocery store that we often walk and bike to. We feel that these types of services make a neighborhood stronger and more valuable in the long term, but there are trade-offs that we make to get this. For one, there is constant tear down and construction of new homes on our street. It causes truck traffic and lots of contractors to park on our street, but it is something that we take in stride because we understand that new families want to live in our neighborhood so that they can enjoy the same amenities that we do. It seems to me that Orion has made significant efforts to mitigate the negative parts of the trade-offs that come along with introducing a great new amenity, a neighborhood restaurant, to what was recently a blighted corner. I also think that a restaurant as proposed would have a far more positive impact on the neighborhood than something that may be allowed without a variance, like a national coffee chain or fast food restaurant that has fewer dining seats but more traffic throughout the day. I don't see the neighborhood benefit of another nail salon or bank that don't need a variance but also don't provide the same kind of walkable amenity. For that reason, and the mitigation steps taken by Orion, I think that the variance is supportable.
  • MD4809 2 months ago
    I support this proposed variance and believe Orion is adding real value to the community by taking a dumpy dry cleaner and turning into a place I may want to live one day when kids are out of the house, etc. A restaurant here would add to the nucleus of commercial activity at 44/France. Density is demonstrably more valuable and why people choose to live in Edina vs more suburban places. Walkable parks and restaurants is why we are here. Planning Commission and City Council, please approve.
  • Keith 2 months ago
    Why are many so people opposed to making our city better? I don't understand the thinking. As a father of 3, there is nothing more we would want than another great restaurant to support in our city. The city parking parking code is 50 years old! a lot has changed in that time, except some of the ways people think. It seems to me there is a lot of the "back in my day" mindsets pertaining to this project...I fully support a parking variance.
  • LLC 2 months ago
    I fully support the parking variance and site plan proposed by the developer of The Lorient. A quality local restaurant would be a wonderful addition to that site. Hoping that this is all approved by the Planning Commission and the City Council.
  • Heather L 2 months ago
    City Council and Planning Commission, please deny this request for a variance. It was denied in February and should be denied again. The Edina City Staff's report is very thorough and lays out all the key points. This request should be denied. As a Morningside resident, I look forward to supporting the restaurant and/or businesses that go into this building but also fall within our laws. Deny this request.
  • Krkapsen 2 months ago
    We support the new restaurant and parking variance at 4500 France. It would be a nice addition to the community
  • old timer 2 months ago
    Linda and I have owned a Grandview condo since 2012. We love Edina!!A family restaurant of this nature is a real plus for the entire city. The parking is adequate when U consider those added and made available by the developer. In real estate, agreements get amended constantly as markets and opportunities change. It would appear to us that your parking ordinance in this age of alternative transportation (bikes, walking, Uber, is in need of an update to your parking ordinance. Linda and I use Uber almost exclusively as do many residents of Grandview. We strongly support this proposal and expect your good, practical judgement to rise to the surface and approve this developers request. A year from now U will be asking yourselves "what parking were we concerned about at Lorient" Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
  • Mark Ehling 2 months ago
    Please deny the request for a variance and amendment.  The resubmitted application doesn’t justify it.  Please respect our zoning ordinance and reject this effort to squeeze in more restaurant seats than the 4500 France building planned to support with parking. This is a problem of the developer’s own making. The developer chose to develop this giant building and now needs to operate it within our laws.
  • Mary Louise L. 2 months ago
    As a resident living on Sunnyside Road for 25 years today, I want to express how disappointed I am to see valuable time and attention being spent on a proposal that was rejected and should be denied again. This revised request for more restaurant seats is essentially the same proposal as the one debated and denied at the Planning Commission's February meeting (now asking for 2.8 times as much restaurant seating than code allows rather than 3.1 as much). Please stay true to the Small Area Plan that was crafted so carefully with input and compromise from so many. This developer has already built beyond the original plan. In October of 2018, City Council flatly rejected this line of exceptionalism in its original approval of the project. Moreover, the density of this area is already unsafe. I sincerely hope the Planning Commission and the Council understand your responsibility of adherence to the 44th and France Small Area Plan and reject this proposal.
  • MMH 2 months ago
    Planning Commission I request that you accept the staff recommendation and deny this variance request. I was set to write a very long rebuttal to Mr Carlson's Variance Questionnaire that is in your packet. However, at the end of the day it is really a simple matter of holding Mr Carlson accountable for accepting the terms of the development outlined by the City Council to get this project approved. A deal is a deal!
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Sunnysidesunshine 2 months ago
      I have to add here that emotions about recent events, the fragile state of many restaurants, and sympathy towards the owners of Tinto Kitchen have to be irreverent to the ultimate decision of the Planning Commission. The law regarding the granting of variances must be followed. Laws give us guidance when emotions want us to make exceptions. Laws provide certainty and take favoritism out of the decision making process. That is why the law must be blindly applied to everyone the same. Please follow the statutes that set out exactly in what conditions variances can be granted.
      Hide reply (1)
      • Sunnysidesunshine 2 months ago
        *irrelevant Please deny the variance request.
  • Resident 2 months ago
    I am a resident in the neighborhood and would ask the council to reject the variance request. The cobbled together parking situation that the developer has proposed is not a viable long-term solution. There are too many variables that must remain constant for this to work and not push the parking situation into the neighborhood. Having another restaurant option in the area sounds great as long as it meets the requirements that were originally approved for the development. Unfortunately it feels that we will be in this constant state of 'variance request' until the developer gets what he wants from the city.
  • Mary Lathrop 2 months ago
    I am requesting that the Planning Commission REJECT the application for a variance in Orion’s number of parking stalls and the increase in the seating in the restaurant. This issue had been carefully studied by the city and the public, and the number of seats in the restaurant and the parking to be provided by the developer were determined. This appears to be just a way to get around the regulations already finalized by the Commission. Orion’s new parking proposal, using potential spots in other lots, is not guaranteed. It seems more like a wish, not a well-thought-out contracted plan. What restaurant customers will do, if the number of seats exceeds what the Commission previously approved, is to park in what had been a lovely residential area. I live in the Concord area, but often visit my family on Sunnyside. Even though they live several houses up from the construction area, the cars of the construction workers at this time make bicycling, meeting cars, and parking in front of a house difficult. I have noticed that it already hard for customers of the many small businesses to find spots in lots and on the street. I hate to think what’s going to happen if Orion is allowed to have a restaurant with three times the approved seating area. It’s going to get much worse. I have two wonderful grandsons living in the area, and I fear that their neghborhood will become a parking lot, with cars jockeying into small spaces, dangerous to small kids trying to ride their bikes near their own house.Please do not allow this variance.
  • amoarn 2 months ago
    I am a resident of White Oaks Meadow Road. We would love to have another quality walkable restaurant in the 44th and France retail area. As most of you know, the Lorient building looks over the dead end circle of Meadow Road. We can now see apartments where before there were none. We would have preferred our old view but now that the development is there we are embracing the idea of a new restaurant in the neighborhood.
  • Gwen 2 months ago
    I am a resident of an immediately adjacent neighborhood. I oppose this application for a variance. The size of the restaurant is dictated by the dedicated parking. This issue was addressed and the rules were clearly understood by the developer at the time the project was approved. The developer is attempting to take a second bite at the apple without a parking solution that doesn’t require a variance and is not a permanent or accessible solution. I urge the variance application be rejected given the lack of any compelling change in circumstances, the impermanence of the patchwork parking solution and the developer’s continuing attempts to change the rules to satisfy his desires without having stepped up to create a plan that met the legal requirements initially. The ability to meet the parking stall requirements for a larger restaurant were entirely within the developer’s control from the very beginning. No need to push the burden into the neighborhood.
  • jkj966 2 months ago
    Regarding the 4500 France parking variance request, the staff report notes “Under the approved PUD, the parking calculations were based on Section 36-1311 of the City Code.” The PUD expressly references Section 36-1312 — parking stalls “Shall be regulated per the Planned Commercial District Parking Regulations Section 36-1312.”Calculations may have been done using section 36-1311, but 36-1312 governs under the PUD zoning ordinance. The PUD zoning ordinance also incorporates by a reference a resolution that states the restaurant is limited to 35 seats. The requested action is to amend the site plan, but should the requested action also provide specific language for amending Resolution 2018-137?I agree with the staff finding that the variance request should be denied. The hardship is self-imposed and the proposed parking solution is inadequate.I do think that if the developer is seeking to go forward with a use for which the site is under parked, the developer should be financially responsible for securing dedicated spaces for the use. Currently, there are no dedicated spaces, because of the public easement. The public easement should be vacated and the developer should give up, at minimum, $1.26 million in TIF funding (36 spaces x $35,000 per space) to secure these spaces for restaurant use only. The developer should also be required to secure, through an agreement that runs with the property regardless of ownership, the 15 spaces on the adjacent parcel.This would give 51 dedicated spaces (15 dedicated after 5:00 p.m.), whereas now it has none.A restaurant was clearly contemplated at the time of approval. It would have been obvious that a 35-seat restaurant in a 3,587 sq. ft. space would not be viable. Yet, the city council imposed this condition and the developer went forward with the project with this condition in place. Most anyone could have seen that this would be an issue down the road. Last, to the idea that enough people will walk or bike to the restaurant to offset the parking need, I live in the neighborhood (although far enough away to not be directly impacted by this project) and chose the neighborhood because I do walk to stores and restaurants. That said, I might walk to the restaurant once or twice a year at most. I won't be walking there with my 85-year-old father. I won't be walking there on a cold evening or icy afternoon in February. If people do walk or bike, consider it a bonus, but do not factor this into any determination about parking.
  • open minded 2 months ago
    I would like to see this project get approved. The developer has done his homework and sought parking spaces to accommodate the size of his restaurant. With your approval there will be more than ample space as many diners will be walking to this establishment as a vital alternative to 50th and France.
  • MKav 2 months ago
    We are a contiguous residential neighbor to the new Lorient project. We support the variance request. The revised parking plan more than meets the needs of the new restaurant. With this plan in place, the new Lorient restaurant will have more parking spaces available than the vast majority of restaurants in the area. The City targeted the revitalization of the 44th and France area with its small area plan. It is promoting higher density and encouraging people to get out of their cars by making these areas more pedestrian friendly. Having this restaurant in the neighborhood will further those objectives. Creating more new parking spaces when adequate existing parking has already been secured does not. Please approve this parking variance.
  • Kathy 2 months ago
    Frankly I cannot believe that Ted Carlson is back again....having followed this what I call "bait and switch" move since original plan approval ,it is clear that developer here is not respecting the neighbors at all. Now in this very changed world environment he is pressing on for a 100 (down from 110 seat ..thanks Ted) seat restaurant in a very small space. ALERT. Within the last months this will be lucky to be able to operate with the 35 seat original plan given the spacing requirements. Not sure who he is working with now...the owner of Tinto that was there last time seemed blindsided that there was any problems over there. I will be surprised if she is back. The rest has all been said by so many neighbors...I would ask the planning commission to please consider the comments...Ted gets all of his developer friends to write in or even come to the meetings in the past...they DO NOT live in the immediate area and mostly talk about Ted as a great guy they knew years ago. Please follow staff's advice and deny this variance. Thank you.
  • M Schmidt 2 months ago
    I am writing to ask the Planning Commission to again reject Orion Investment's request for a parking stall variance and amendment to the final development plan for the project at 4500 France Avenue. Orion has no basis for a variance. The supposed “problem” is one of Orion’s own making. Orion chose to build a huge residential and commercial complex, yet devoted most of its parking (I believe all of its underground parking) to residential use so that Orion could build more residential stories. That Orion cannot now provide commercial parking for a much bigger restaurant is a "problem" of its own making – if it wanted to have a huge restaurant on site, it could have built less residential units and devoted much more of its existing parking to commercial use. The magnitude of this request is shocking, so large it’s not even really a variance – it’s not like Orion found itself one parking spot short and is begging for mercy. The City should not allow a developer to nearly triple the number of allowed restaurant seats from 35 to 100, and the City should not give the developer a pass from providing 25 required on-site parking stalls required by the City's zoning rules. I hope that the Planning Commission members appreciate just how huge this request is – imagine someone asking for a variance of this percentage magnitude next door to you, on any subject, and I doubt you would think it was a good idea. Orion dangles as a lure a trendy restaurant, hoping to get the City to take a tremendous bite out of its zoning laws. Bad idea. I hope the City doesn’t sell out its zoning laws, to the detriment of the immediate neighborhood, thinking it needs to do so to get a trendy place to eat. It’s not necessary to have a big restaurant to fill that need, as the metro area has many vibrant yet smaller, truly neighborhood restaurants, which would fit well within the existing plan. For example, one of the most popular and acclaimed restaurants is Tilia in Linden Hills, which has 50 seats. Such a variance and amendment would provide an incentive for future developers to try shoving the negative impacts of their projects into the surrounding community, gutting the strength of zoning laws meant to protect that community from such negative impacts. If each property in the area is allowed to do this when they redevelop, then the neighborhood will become a parking lot.If any of you has doubts about the parking problem this will create, I would be happy to share videos I took this week showing the closest block of Sunnyside fully parked at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, 2020 and at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, April 24, 2020, when all of the construction vehicles from this site were parked up and down the road. The videos show precisely what happens when Orion doesn’t provide enough parking on site. All those cars go park down the residential streets.Adherence to the parking laws is important. At the last hearing, a few planning commission members thought maybe the parking law was outdated, since it was enacted in the 70s or earlier. There was no report or analysis to support those statements. To the contrary, I suspect there is an even greater parking demand now than when the law was originally created. There appears to be more 2 and 3 car households in Edina these days, given the rise of the 3 stall garage in the intervening years. And despite all the hype about Uber and Lyft, I very seldom see anyone arriving at this intersection by rideshare. There are so many people in this City driving around in fancy cars, it’s hard to believe they are just going to leave them at home and take an Uber instead.Orion faces a "problem" of its own making. The developer knew the rules going in and should have to follow them. Reject this request for the variance and amendment. Thank you,Mark Schmidt
  • Neighbor 2 months ago
    I completely support this variance. I think the is additional parking all around the area and won't be an issue. The restaurant owner knows what they are doing and as a fellow business owner, I think the neighborhood needs this.
  • Sunny 2 months ago
    The cobbled together parking solution proposed by the Orion developer seeking a parking variance that’s nearly three times more than zoning allows is ridiculous. The proposed patchwork of parking looks more like a student’s last-minute stab at forgotten homework -- not a serious plan for a multi-million-dollar development that’s been years in the making. During Orion’s final pitch to pass the project on Oct. 2, 2018 the developer offered a “give to get", saying that he would allow neighboring businesses the use of his parking lot. Now, Orion is asking all of the neighboring businesses for THEIR parking spaces -- as well as gobbling up all of the on-street spaces. That’s a fundamental problem. Not to mention that any parking deals Orion might secure -- in random, far-flung places -- aren’t in perpetuity. Countless hours and dollars went into the Small Area Plan, creating a vision for the Sunnyside/France/West 44th area. The Orion project is the kick-off project of the SAP, setting the tone for future development. Approving this variance would make a joke of the SAP, taking the plan off the rails from the start and setting a terrible precedent for future development. With this variance, the guiding principle of the SAP’s original promise of “living streets” would turn into a living nightmare with excessive traffic and congestion, compromising the safety and well-being of residents.Neighborhood residents have been voicing their concerns about the potential restaurant parking shortage since the planning stage of the development. The developer has had ample time to find a real solutions. Orion’s 4500 France space will make a lovely restaurant -- but the parking needs to accommodate the seating -- according to existing zoning ordinances. Any parking shortage that Orion might experience due to the desire to expand on the existing plan is self-created and the variance request should be denied. Thank you!
  • Ted Wolfe 2 months ago
    Whew! First, is it possible that 'cabin fever' is getting to us? Lots of anger / emotion in those earlier lengthy responses. (Yes, and I look forward to your cards and letters on my opinions. ;-) )To me the question turns on 'whether you want to building to succeed and at what cost'? On the success question, I vote Yes. The building will be here for a long time and it's financial success will mean it's well maintained. That will be a plus for the neighborhood.On the cost question, it comes down to the 'cost' to the neighborhood of providing 25 added parking spaces. What caught my eye, was the developer offering to have signed lease agreements for 43 off street parking stalls (Edina Gateway, DP Hue & 44th Street Dental). To me, that's a win-win. The needed extra spaces already exist, they just need to be made available for the restaurant.And I do understand the need for rules/standards to assure Edina goals are met. But variances are part of the established process. Variances assure major goals are achieved when strict application of the general rule need to be modified.I hope the board approves the variance.
  • J. O'Neill 2 months ago
    To the Planning Commission and City Council: Please support this request for a parking variance and endorse moving forward with the proposed plans. The parking code that is in place is built around a suburban model where more space and free surface parking is the norm. This project revitalizes an under served high traffic corner greatly improving the neighborhood and community in a fully developed urban setting. Onsite parking to accommodate a restaurant that can pay market rental rates that are commensurate with development costs requires this kind of scale; in high density urban areas like this onsite parking is naturally limited. The developer has gone above and beyond to acquire additional parking spaces in the surrounding area adding to their operating expenses while providing additional revenue to surrounding business owners. This area needs a locally run full service family friendly restaurant and this venue fits the bill. I hope that the Planning Commission and City Council considers the value add of this establishment to the City of Edina and the great lengths the developer has taken to accommodate concerns of neighbors and acquire additional parking in the immediate area. Please vote to support this variance and keep this local operator on a path to add jobs and a great venue for our community.
  • Scott Smith 2 months ago
    I have reviewed the information on what the restaurant operator and the building owner have proposed to satisfy the parking demand. I find it to be very comprehensive and the additional site improvements make the entire project even better. Many of the restaurant customers will walk, requiring no parking at all. For many years, Morningside residents have discussed the amenity of having a family oriented neighborhood restaurant that they can walk to. Please consider all that has been proposed and vote in favor of the variance. Scott Smith 3913 Morningside Rd
  • 4523 Bruce 2 months ago
    The developer's building complements the corner. I have no problems in that regard. Asking for a variance during construction shows the developer is engaged in a bait and switch. Accepting zoning restrictions to get approval and then asking for a variance reveals his intention to challenge the variance as soon as possible. He accepted the limit and nothing has changed to warrant this variance. The public meeting made clear a parking resolution at 44th / Sunnyside and France must come before any consideration of a variance. The developer has the ability to negotiate with surrounding property owners to obtain added parking before presenting a request for variance. He should commit to supporting a parking study and abide by the recommendations.
  • Susan U 3 months ago
    Planning Commission and City Council, The resubmitted application doesn’t justify a variance. Please respect our zoning ordinance and reject this effort to squeeze in more restaurant seats than the 4500 France building planned to support with parking. This is a problem of the developer’s own making. The developer chose to develop this giant building and now needs to operate it within our laws. This intersection is already unsafe with too much traffic and now additional construction traffic, which will soon be replaced by new resident and retail/restaurant traffic. That intersection and the entire neighborhood simply can't support what this developer is proposing. And this developer needs to abide by the current laws, as they were put in place for a good reason. Accepting this sets a dangerous precedent for future re-development. The public interest here is safety and allow this to go through would be a detriment to public safety.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Morningside12 3 months ago
      “This is a problem of the developer’s own making”, Exactly! It’s not the City’s or neighborhood’s problem.
  • Susan2020 3 months ago
    This variance request is largely centered on parking, and the city staff report has justifiably cast doubt on the developer’s proposed parking plan in recommending that the variance be denied. The Planning Commission should, too – and not just for parking reasons, but because of legitimate traffic safety concerns that would result from nearly tripling the restaurant’s seating. ---- The variance plan all but guarantees that restaurant patrons parking off-site will use neighborhood residential streets, not the far-flung spots suggested by the developer. Not only does that change the character of our neighborhood (itself a reason to deny the variance), it greatly increases traffic safety problems. People will circle the block looking for on-street places to park – a multiplier effect of the increased traffic that a 100-seat restaurant will bring. ---- Spack Consulting’s traffic research has no validity. It should rightly compare a 35-seat restaurant to a 100-seat restaurant. Instead, it compares a 3,700-square-foot restaurant (no number of seats specified) to a 100-seat restaurant. How can you possibly judge this before-and-after by using square footage on one hand and the number of seats on the other? Maybe that is why Spack’s figures show that a restaurant with 100 seats (65 more than what is currently allowed) would increase traffic by just 5 cars a day. That makes no sense at all. ---- In 2018, neighbors pleaded with the city to require a solid barrier to keep cars from making left turns out of the project’s garage door on Sunnyside and onto this residential street. ---- The developer now says he will re-design the garage opening on Sunnyside to eliminate left turns, but provides no details of this “re-design.” ---- When asked about such a barrier at the Oct. 2, 2018 City Council meeting, the developer said he was opposed to it because “it would be punishing” a large majority of 4500 France customers who would be inconvenienced by not being able to exit by turning left. Given that attitude, how are we to believe that the developer will now install something as a re-design that would actually work? This is a last-minute Hail Mary by the developer. ---- The safety and well-being of Morningside neighbors is at stake here. Please deny this variance.
  • SDean36 3 months ago
    I am asking that the Planning Commission and City Council reject Orion Investment's slightly revised request for a parking stall variance and amendment to the final development plan for the project at 4500 France Avenue. If this variance and amendment were approved, it would undermine the neighborhood's trust in their City officials, who talked very tough that this project would not negatively impact the surrounding neighborhood when they extracted concessions from the neighborhood during the Small Area Plan process and approved the project for a 35 seat restaurant. This was denied in February and should be denied again.--------This variance and amendment for triple the seats to 100 would negatively impact the Morningside, Country Club and Whites Oaks neighborhoods by tripling commercial traffic, the heaviest type of traffic described by the 44th and France Plan consultants. The variance and amendment would gift Orion Investments the neighborhood's street parking up and down Sunnyside, Curve and 44th Street in exchange for nothing. The people already living in the area would like to continue to have guests have somewhere to park when visiting their homes. The people already living in this neighborhood would like to have somewhere for babysitters to park when caring for their children on a weekend night. --------And this one project is not the end of it. If each new redevelopment in the 44th and France area is allowed to flout the City's parking rules in the same manner - providing a fraction of the required parking - the parking situation will get exponentially worse for all the other streets in this neighborhood too - 44 Street, Eton, Curve, Grimes, Morningside Rd, etc. Orion offers fluffy non-binding “off-site” parking arrangements with various businesses in the area, but those will be confusing, of little or no help, and can evaporate as the future unfolds. Orion is lucky enough with the huge incentives and zoning concessions it has already obtained from the City, so why give it even more? Just because the developer desires more? Sorry, that’s not how the world works. Laws matter and this developer isn’t special. Enough already. There is no good reason to do this to the detriment of the surrounding neighborhood. Make Orion follow the rules! Orion is not special and has put itself in this position. It knew full well from the start that it only had approval to build a 35 seat restaurant. It should have planned for that instead of betting on another zoning change gift from the City.--------There are plenty of wonderful 35 seat, truly neighborhood restaurants in the Twin Cities. As a Morningsider, I look forward to supporting one on our corner!
  • SunnysideofLife 3 months ago
    As a Sunnyside resident directly impacted by this variance request, my primary objection to this plan is the absurd notion that patrons will go out of their way to park in lots that are not located in or adjacent to the proposed restaurant. If we look past the concern that patrons would not know to park in those off-site locations, they still for the most part would be looking for the first available spot to part which would be the residential areas. The builder knew the parking limitations when this development was approved and didn’t care. This project was outside of the wishes of the neighborhood from the start. The small area planning committee was told by the third party planners that it was their direction to remove height restrictions and expand the footprint of the commercial area. After much debate, the small area plan reached a compromise and agreed to add 1 extra lot for commercial use. The city council then over-ruled the plan to add the second lot and thus much larger footprint into the residential neighborhood. At some point, we ask for your support as you provided in your last rejection of the expansion request to parking for this already behemoth of a plan.
  • Sunnysidesunshine 3 months ago
    The Planning Commission was correct in voting down the 4500 France variance request in February and should do so again with this revised plan. The developer’s rationale for this variance is based on a plan for off-site parking, and that restaurant patrons would find about these off-site parking spots via the restaurant website, calling the restaurant to ask where to park or through some other type of unknown communication. This is wishful thinking - it is doubtful that very many, if any, patrons would do any of these things. The city staff report correctly notes this as a concern. These additional parking spaces are scattered about in random locations – all extremely impractical. No one is going to park at 44th Street Dental, DP Hue or the Masonic Lodge and make their way to the restaurant from there. How do we know this? Because recently, neighbors on Sunnyside and Curve have had the real-life experience of seeing their streets become the place where parking spills over when people can’t park at the 4500 France site. France Avenue had been closed down at the intersection of Sunnyside and France, and our streets became the parking lot for 4500 France construction workers. They parked their cars and trucks on Curve and for almost two blocks down Sunnyside. (Neighbors shot many photos, and some are being posted on the Planning Commission’s comment section). The workers aren’t to blame. People park in the easiest place possible. This lineup of vehicles parked along our residential streets happened even as other businesses – including the ones the developer claims to have parking agreements with - are closed due the statewide shutdown. Imagine what the scene will be with a 100-seat restaurant operating and all these other businesses reopened. The city staff report notes that an increase in on-street parking can be interpreted as impacting the character of a residential neighborhood – a reason to deny a variance request. These construction workers have given us a vivid preview of just how the developer’s off-site parking plan will work – it will not.This also destroys any notion that off-site parking options could ever effectively be communicated to an ever-changing group of restaurant patrons. The developer couldn’t even do that with his own construction workers – or if he did, his efforts weren’t successful. I’d like to close by reiterating comments I made to the Planning Commission in February, asking commissioners to follow the law. At the neighborhood meeting at the Riveter, the developer claimed parking ordinances were outdated, burdensome and should not have to be followed. But these laws are on the books for a reason, to protect neighborhoods from an overarching do-over plan like this one. As one of my neighbors told you in February, “This isn’t a variance, it’s a game-changer.” The Minnesota statute states that variances cannot be granted for financial gain or to fix a situation that the applicant created. That clearly is the case here, and it is a reason the city staff has once again recommended that this variance request be denied. This isn’t the time to bend to an emotional plea of a developer. Please follow the law and the city staff’s guidance and reject this variance request.
  • EwingCurrent 3 months ago
    Orion Investments Variance Application, published on or about April 17, 2020 (the “Application”)The Application now seeks a variance from the City’s Parking Ordinance based upon Orion Investment’s (the “Applicant) substitution of surface parking on certain private parking lots instead of meeting the parking needs of the proposed restaurant tenant on an adjacent surface lot owned by the Applicant and by relying upon on-street parking. The grounds or basis to grant a variance such as the parking variance requested by the Applicant are as follows:(1) An unnecessary or undue hardship is caused by enforcement of the ordinance which cannot be simply an “economic hardship;”(2) The unnecessary or undue hardship is peculiar or unique to the owner’s property and is not general or common to surrounding properties in the area or neighborhood; and(3) The unnecessary or undue hardship was not self-created by the property owner.The Applicant in its most recent, Application fails to satisfy any of the grounds for granting the parking variance. Let us consider each of the three grounds or bases.1. There is no unnecessary or undue hardship presented in the Application. Nowhere in the Application is there any mention of any substantial problems or undue cost associated with compliance with the parking ordinance. There is no evidence that the Applicant even considered or negotiated with a proposed tenant for a 35 seat restaurant and any issues, costs or problems associated with such a proposed tenant. It could be argued that a 35-seat restaurant is ideal for the Applicant’s property. The comments presented by Planning Commissioner Miranda at the February 25, 2020 Edina Planning Commission Meeting confirm the possibility for the use of the Applicant’s property in compliance with the parking ordinance. Such a restaurant could take advantage of the “E-Line Express Transit Service” (“E-Line”) as proposed by the Metro Transit for France Avenue and its route to and from downtown Minneapolis. A smaller restaurant with more use of “take-out service” would appear to be a great fit or match for the proposed E-Line. Customers could pick-up coffee and breakfast entrees before boarding E-Line buses and dinner entrees in the late afternoon and evening on the way home or to evening employment in the City’s Medical District or similar locations.2. The hardship is not peculiar or unique to the Applicant’s property. There are four other restaurants in Edina that are near the Applicant’s property. Each of these food purveyors or restaurants must rely upon parking immediately adjacent to the restaurant location and take-out service. The Convention Grill, Hello Pizza, Bruegger’s and Caribou Coffee all have parking behind or adjacent to the location of these establishments. They do not rely upon surface parking lots that are remote and hundreds of feet from their real estate.3. The Applicant’s hardship was partially if not entirely self-created. The Applicant in its construction and other regulatory permits proposed a restaurant and retail space with on-site parking that complied with the zoning ordinance parking requirements. If the Applicant wanted to have to option of including a restaurant with one hundred seats and not 35, then the Applicant should have included that option in 2018 when it sought plan approval. To seek a zoning ordinance variance now is a little like asking for “forgiveness” when the Applicant could have sought permission for the current, 100 seat, restaurant proposal at the time construction was commenced. It appears that the Applicant feels that by essentially hitting “the easy button” with the 100 seat restaurant as proposed, the Applicant will not have to exert the effort to search for tenants for restaurant and retail space as had been proposed at the time the original plans for the site were submitted and approved by the City.The Planning Commission should once again, deny the Applicant’s parking variance request. Although the Applicant has made an effort to locate “off-street, surface parking” for its proposed, restaurant tenant, the multiple sites for this parking are problematic in many ways.The varied parking lots are not convenient to the Applicant’s property with the exception of the site immediately south of the Applicant’s property. While the Applicant has included the hours of operation for the businesses that use the remote parking lots, it is not clear if the restaurant that necessitates the parking variance will only be open after the businesses that use or control the remote surface lots are no longer using these surface lots. Similarly, it is not clear if the suggested number of spaces in the remote lots will indeed be available when some portion of these surface lots are used for snow storage and other maintenance requirements. Finally, except for the suggestion in the Application that the proposed restaurant tenant will post the location of the remote surface lots at the restaurant, there is nothing to suggest that customers will not look for more convenient parking opportunities on Sunnyside Avenue or by parking illegally in near-by private, parking lots. Essentially, the parking enforcement problem that will arise if the parking variance is granted would shift the burden to property owners who are currently in compliance with zoning and parking requirements.
  • Mar 3 months ago
    Ronald and Maradeth Searle4045 Sunnyside Road, Edina MNAttn: Edina City Planning CommissionRe: Ongoing concerns regarding the proposed restaurant seating at the 4500 France development.We once again wish to address our concern about the size of this restaurant with seating “trimmed” from 110 to 100. Assuming that dinners generally come in pairs, this would reduce the number of needed parking spaces by only five. The area is already heavily trafficked with very little parking. Out-of-the-way parking is not likely to be used as cars spill into our residential area. Also, as a resident of Sunnyside Road, I am keenly aware of the multiple deliveries that occur when large trucks arrive to provide food and other supplies to businesses in the area .Our neighborhood has increasingly turned over to more families with young children. Sunnyside Road in the area mentioned is already heavily trafficked and is also a school bus route. There are children waiting for and getting off the buses in the area and walking to and from their homes. When not in school, these same children are outdoors playing and riding bicycles in the area. This is especially true in the evening following school hours and during the summer, when school is not in session. Once again, I would ask you to consider the safety of our neighborhood and deny the current request for restaurant seating of 100.
  • Sunny_side 3 months ago
    This is not merely a variance. This is a case of “developer’s remorse.”Less than two years after agreeing to a final plan with a 35-seat restaurant, the developer now has come back asking for permission for a restaurant with 100 seats – nearly three times the number in the original plan. The developer is asking us to believe that he initially he was “uncertain” that a restaurant – which has stricter parking standards than conventional retail – would be the best use for the space. Now however, he tells us he has decided it’s “a perfect fit.” Apparently, that is why he is in a mad scramble to fill out his inadequate on-site parking numbers with off-site spots scattered throughout in locations restaurant patrons are unlikely to know about, much less use – and therefore would drive around and park on neighborhood residential streets instead. The city staff recognizes this problem and has pointed it out. It constitutes a change in neighborhood character - one of the reasons the city staff has recommended this variance request be denied. Another is that it violates a guiding principle of the 44 & France Small Area Plan that calls for development-related parking to be hidden from view. This variance request is the consequence of poor planning by the developer, whose research should have told him that a restaurant would be “a perfect fit” from the start. The neighborhood should not have to pay for his mistakes.
  • Operon 3 months ago
    This newly submitted application does not justify a variance. The city code clearly states that any development is required to support ON SITE the parking demands of the development. Apparently Orion Investments is asking to reduce the number of on site parking slots and at the same time increase the restaurant seating from 35 to 100! increased parking pressures would be extremely significant. When the City Council originally approved this project they went on record saying that they would not approve an increase in the number of seats to the restaurant. Please maintain this decision.. Thank You Ernest Ashcroft
  • Morningside12 3 months ago
    This project was approved and the developer proceeded with construction fully aware of the 35 seat limit on the restaurant. There is no evidence provide that this variance request meets the city criteria for issuing the variance. The off site parking suggested is mostly, realistically, unusable by potential restaurant patrons. Who the potential restaurant operator maybe is irrelevant to the consideration of a variance and should be ignored by the planning commission and city council. The variance should be denied on lack of proper evidence.
  • Morningsider 3 months ago
    The developer’s revised plan for a variance at 4500 France has barely changed from the one rejected by the Planning Commission in February and should once again be denied. The developer now says he will “re-design the parking entrance to eliminate the left-out turn from the public parking area.” He provides no other details, in his narrative or the attached site plan. Are we supposed to just take his word on this? He is proposing this, no doubt, because of public testimony at the Feb. 12, 2020 Planning Commission meeting that showed city leaders had erroneously assumed that a solid barrier would be built to prevent left turns out of the project's garage to shield Sunnyside from increased traffic. What exactly will this “re-design” be? If it is nothing more than a “No Left Turn” sign, that is insufficient. The idea of a sign was briefly mentioned at a council meeting in 2018 when this issue first cropped up, and councilmembers laughed at it, agreeing that drivers would simply ignore it. This is a big deal – Sunnyside is the main drag for this project. The developer seeks to mask the project’s parking shortage by making the restaurant owner/operator the face of this variance request. This restaurant operator’s menu, projected number of employees, purported goal of providing a “neighborhood touch” cannot be the basis for judging this variance. The variance is for ANY restaurant with 100 seats at the project - now and in the future. We all know that restaurant space turns over all the time – and not just because restaurants have a high failure rate. Rebecca Illingworth herself opened Tinto Kitchen on Penn Avenue in 2017, after moving from a spot on Lake Street where she had operated for just two years. Just a few blocks away at 50th and France, the restaurant space directly across from the Edina Theater is about to have it fifth restaurant tenant (Pajarito). The restaurant that was there just before that (Moderna Kouzina) lasted less than a year. It is foolhardy and inappropriate to agree to a variance based on who you think the tenant will be.None of the additional parking the developer says he has secured is guaranteed or convenient. The February 2020 city staff report said the developer should not be allowed to count parking stalls at property he owns – the adjacent Edina Gateway mall - toward his parking total for 4500 France. If he cannot claim those spots, why should he be allowed to claim spots at places he does not own, like the Masonic Lodge, DP Hue or 44th Street Dental? In some cases, he acknowledges that he only can claim those additional spots because of “civic obligations” of those other property owners – this claim is flimsy.And all those other parking spots are tucked into such out-of-the way places that they are basically worthless. The developer says restaurant patrons would be directed to those parking places via the restaurant website, maps at the hostess stand and neighborhood association communication channels. None of these are realistic options. How often do you check an Edina restaurant’s website to find out where you could park? Are customers supposed to leave their cars idling while they dash into the restaurant to get a map at the hostess stand? Just exactly how would the neighborhood association effectively publicize these additional spots? And even if patrons did find out by any of those means, do you really think people would walk in freezing cold weather from the Masonic Lodge? No, they would park on Sunnyside, Curve or 44th – and they would circle the block until they could find the best place on those residential streets.
  • jlonnquist 3 months ago
    This revised request for more restaurant seats is essentially the same proposal as the one debated and denied at the Planning Commission's February meeting (now asking for 2.8 times as much restaurant seating than code allows rather than 3.1 as much). Change, density, and development are all good things, but please stay true to the Small Area Plan that was crafted so carefully with input and compromise from so many. This developer chose to go first and offered to add public parking as a "give" for the "get" of height well beyond the original two story cap. This new proposal says that previously they were "uncertain if a restaurant would be the best use" for the Lorient's retail space. Now it is deemed "a super fit" and this revelation should merit waiver of Edina's restaurant parking ratio requirements. In October of 2018, City Council flatly rejected this line of exceptionalism in its original approval of the project. I hope the 44th and France SAP isn't compromised during its very first application. I look forward to walking and biking to a great new 35-seat restaurant when it is completed at the Lorient.
  • Zingale Ventures 3 months ago
    The nearby commercial parking lots are obviously only useful for possible employees only. They make no sense for patrons for the restaurant or the other rental business(s) within The Lorient. Do these parking lots at all resolve this parking issue? Valet parking I believe will not make long term sense in resolving this parking issue. Will the 2 hour maximum parking time continue on the northside of Sunnyside? Will there be a 2 hour maximum parking time limit on the southside of Sunnyside in front of The Lorient?How will these maximum parking times be enforced? Will property owners on the northside of Sunnyside have to keep monitoring the parking?Thank you...