The Edina City Council wants to make one thing clear: Construction of a proposed massive land bridge over Hwy. 100 near City Hall will not be happening anytime soon.
At a Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) meeting last week, council members agreed to stop spending money on the Grandview Green concept, which has been around for years and drawn opposition from residents who live in the area that would be affected.
“There’s been some confusion in the community about whether we’re building this in 2019 or 2020 or 2021,” Council Member Kevin Staunton said at the meeting. “I want to make it crystal clear to folks that our intent is that this be considered off in the future, not in the ... next couple of years.”
For the land bridge, the future could be decades from now, said Bill Neuendorf, the city’s economic development manager. The point in discussing it now, he said, was to learn if it was even feasible. But it could be at least 30 years before the bridge and its surrounding components are up, he said.
The Grandview Green concept was seen as a way to reconnect neighborhoods east and west of Hwy. 100 when it was introduced earlier this decade.
The 750-foot bridge — widely referred to as a “lid” — would support a public green space over the highway and be surrounded by private development, such as apartments, hotels and retail. It would be bordered by Vernon Avenue on the north and Eden Avenue on the south, which converge into W. 50th Street east of the highway.
Renderings show a bustling recreational area surrounded by tall apartment buildings. City officials felt the lid could become a local destination, one that would allow the area to be easily traversed by cyclists and pedestrians and generate revenue to pay for its construction.
The city spent about $368,000 studying the concept, Neuendorf said, including transportation and sustainability studies. It entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and earlier this year was hoping to prepare initial land lease terms with the state.
But it’s unlikely those terms will be locked in by the end of the year, Mayor James Hovland said.
Other cities, including Rochester and St. Paul, have shown interest in building lids, Hovland said. He added that he hoped it would take 10 or 15 years, rather than 30, to build one in Edina.
“To me, that’s a pretty intriguing idea at some point in the future that maybe deserves some further exploration,” he said.
The council’s decision to halt spending on the lid concept left at least one opponent perplexed.
Bruce Christensen, an Edina resident who has led a “Stop the Lid” group since June, said he felt the decision to back off from the project was political in nature. Two council seats are up for election in November, with Staunton and Council Member Bob Stewart running for re-election.
The land bridge would be an “inappropriate spot for high-density development,” Christensen said, saying the planned apartments, hotel and retail projects could increase traffic and crowding. He said the project had become a “rallying point” for tensions between the council and residents over future development. His group so far has collected 2,000 signatures against the project.
At the HRA meeting last week, Council Member Mike Fischer said it is important for the council to look ahead at projects that could shape the future of the city.
“We are a great place to live. That’s why people are so invested and so concerned about us planning for things that look different,” he said.
“But I would argue that’s the dangerous position to be in.”