New parks, new trails, new stores, new schools. Lots of new stuff is springing to life south of the river in 2014. A huge new outlet mall that is to open late this summer, and a major regional park in the autumn, are among the headliners in Dakota County. In Scott County, which is “younger” from the standpoint of basic development, a marquee transit station is coming online and voters in two school districts in March will consider major construction projects. Here’s a rundown of some of what’s coming up:
Paragon Outlets’ large mall under construction in Eagan’s Cedar Grove redevelopment area is set to open in August.
The upscale outlet mall being built by Baltimore-based Paragon Outlet Partners will have an open-air design with about 100 stores. About 40 have already signed on, including Brooks Brothers, Calphalon, Coach, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren and Swarovski. A Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th will anchor the complex.
The mall has sparked other developers’ interest in Cedar Grove. Next to the retail center, work has begun on a 190-unit upscale apartment building, the first to be built in Eagan since the mid-1990s. City planners recently approved plans for an all-suite hotel to be developed by Morrissey Hospitality, the company that manages the St. Paul Hotel and Hotel Minneapolis. Morrissey hopes to begin construction this spring and open it in the spring of 2015.
DECISION ON NEW HIGH SCHOOL
Voters in Shakopee will weigh in on a proposed $89 million bond referendum on March 11, with $78 million of that money going toward a second high school.
The new school is needed to accommodate large current junior high classes and any enrollment growth, district officials say.
Passing the building bond referendum would add about $156 in property taxes annually for 20 years to an home valued at $200,000 in Shakopee, said Superintendent Rod Thompson.
If the referendum passes, the new facility would open in 2017, and its design would be similar to that of the current high school, built in 2007.
School board and community members had long questioned whether building a new high school for grades 9-12 was really necessary. The district explored several other options, including adding on to the current high school or splitting up the school into two sites, one for students in grades 9 and 10 and the other for students in grades 11 and 12.
After completing the research and looking at enrollment numbers, though, the board decided another high school was the way to go and approved putting the referendum on the ballot in a 6-1 vote in September.
MAJOR PARK OPENING
Dakota County’s second regional park, Whitetail Woods Regional Park in Empire Township, will open in the fall after the first phase of development is complete.
The land — 450 acres formerly used for farming and hunting — will have roads, trails, electricity, bathrooms, running water and picnic shelters after initial spending of about $5.5 million.
Three camper cabins are also part of the plan, along with picnic grounds, a sledding hill in the heart of the park, 8 miles of trails and an overlook of pristine Empire Lake.
LOCKHEED SITE PLANS
The redevelopment of the former Lockheed Martin corporate campus in Eagan is likely to get underway in 2014, three years after Minneapolis developer CSM Corp. acquired the 47-acre site.
Eagan’s Advisory Planning Commission already has approved CSM’s plan for 400,000 square feet of stores and restaurants and 50,000 square feet of office space, but is requiring the developer to downsize parking lots, narrow interior roads and add green space. CSM has been revising its plan before submitting it to the City Council.
CSM already has changed its plan so it doesn’t include any space for a big-box merchant like Target or Wal-Mart. But a trendy grocery store is still in the works; Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both have surfaced as possible tenants.
The latest plan has a bike path around the perimeter of the site, with places for pedestrians and bikers to enter and exit and connections to destinations such as the Eagan Community Center and Central Park. City planners and council members had expressed interest in making the new development easily accessible by foot, bike and public transit.
New employers, in some cases lured with financial incentives, will be adding hundreds of jobs in Shakopee in the coming year.
Construction is underway on a $60 million plant in the Dean Lakes business park for Shutterfly, Inc., a California maker of digital photo and paper products; the first phase of new facilities for Emerson Process Management, a division of multinational Emerson Electric; and the first commercial facility for asphalt recycler Recovery Technology Solutions on the former Raceway Park site.
Dallas-based Compass Datacenters also has started building a $26 million facility for Savvis, a division of CenturyLink.
Construction will begin early this year on a new headquarters for Datacard Group, which is moving its headquarters from Minnetonka. Faribault-based manufacturer Trystar Inc. will move its operations to a newly built plant in Dean Lakes.
FUTURE OF LEBANON HILLS
Dakota County Commissioners will make a decision on the master plan for future development of the 2,000-acre Lebanon Hills Regional Park in February.
A 6.5-mile paved trail proposed for the park has drawn opposition from park users who prefer the park the way it is — with few paved trails.
Opponents, most of whom live near the park in Eagan, say they worry that asphalt will leach harmful chemicals into the ground and water. They also worry about fast bikers posing safety hazards, and the loss of quiet and solitude. Commissioner Paul Krause has countered that with a letter to the editor saying the park was once farm land, not pristine wilderness. He argues that the trail will give park visitors more to do and make it usable by people who bike, walk and move by wheelchair.
ROBERT STREET RE-DO
Three years of reconstruction of S. Robert Street in West St. Paul will begin this year with the preparation of alternate routes to handle traffic during construction.
The project has gone up in cost from $10 million initially to $22 million and to the most recent estimate of $26.8 million — forcing the city to come up with more money for the project.
City Council members decided in December to split the huge project in two, going forward with road construction while continuing to deliberate over landscaping to be done under a separate contract.
BIG VOTE IN JORDAN
Residents in the Jordan School District will vote on a two-question building bond referendum on March 11.
The first question proposes building a new middle school with a pricetag of $29.45 million, while the second question would put $5.245 million toward a new community center to be built adjacent to the middle school.
If both questions pass, owners of an average-priced home valued at $200,000 in Jordan would see an additional $297 in property taxes annually for 20 years.
In order for the second question to pass, the first must be approved by voters.
The current middle school, built in the 1960s with a 1970s-era addition, is in need of updates, according to Superintendent Matt Helgerson. The new structure would have a new gym and modernized classroom spaces, he said.
Voters in the district approved a building bond referendum in 2001 to build the current high school, with some elementary school updates included.
The idea to add a question related to building a community center, which would include athletic facilities and other meeting spaces, was given the go-ahead by the school board after the initial referendum amount was approved.
The city of Jordan doesn’t have a community center.
Scott County transit station
In a move with some symbolic resonance, a onetime auto dealership is being transformed into Scott County’s marquee transit station, just off Hwy. 169 in Shakopee.
The Marschall Road Transit Station, a park and ride that’s more than just that, is to become fully operational in 2014 at the southwest quadrant of Hwy. 169 and County Road 17, the site of a onetime sales facility under the umbrella of now-imprisoned auto baron Denny Hecker.
The 400-stall park and ride for BlueXpress commuter buses will also be the transfer site for SmartLink, a dial-a-ride service for Scott and Carver counties, and local circulators. It will feature a bus-only ramp to Hwy. 169 to speed rides to downtown Minneapolis, and it will enhance bike connectivity with transit.
The county partnered with the state to buy the property in 2010.
After some controversy this fall, the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District is beginning construction on a two-story, 54,000-square-foot early childhood and adult education center.
The learning center is being built on district-owned land near the intersection of 144th Street and Diamond Path in Apple Valley, near Diamond Path Elementary School and just across the parking lot from Dakota Ridge School and the District Service Center.
Residents who live near the new school complained because they believed the district was rushing to push the project through, despite their concerns. At a school board meeting, they cited traffic, crime and declining property values as reasons for the district to reconsider their decision to build.
The district, however, is moving forward with construction. The center will open in December 2014 if everything goes as planned.
Currently, the district leases space for its early childhood and adult education programming. Officials say that having classes at the new site instead of renting will save money in the long run.
The microbrewery bandwagon is set to arrive in the south metro this year with the reopening of the Jordan Brewery.
Chaska native Tim Roets has leased and is remodeling space on the historic brewery building’s ground floor to transform it into a taproom and “nanobrewery” — a smaller version of a microbrewery. The space most recently was occupied by antique stores and a general store but has been vacant for about two years.
This will be the first commercial brewing venture for Roets, a longtime home brewer. He expects his Jordan brewery will produce about five different varieties, with a capacity of two to three barrels a day.
Scott County was once home to six small breweries in the early 1900s. Started in 1866, the Jordan Brewery at one time was one of two in the city, changing owners over the years before closing in 1949.