After more than five years of planning, multiple task forces and dozens of public meetings, Edina has narrowed the field to three concepts for a major public-private development in the Grandview district.
But a determined group of neighbors is still fighting the idea. They want to see the 3.3-acre parcel off Eden Avenue, the city's former public works site, retained exclusively for public use. Members of the group, Public Grandview, aggressively worked the crowd at the unveiling of the contending proposals on Wednesday night and collected a plurality of votes for "none of the above."
"I think public land is sacrosanct," said Kim Montgomery, who served on the executive committee of a city task force on the Grandview project before becoming a leader of the opposition. "We lack imagination at the City Council level. It is much easier for the developer to provide the vision. So they take the easy way out by partnering with the developer."
The three concepts unveiled Wednesday differ in size and design, but all contain a mix of indoor and outdoor public space, offices, retail and restaurants, parking and apartments. The smallest of the concepts would cost more than $60 million to build, and the largest would be "substantially" more than that, according to officials of Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate Group, the city's partner in the project.
"We are thinking of this project as the catalyst for other things that will happen in Grandview, so this area will come alive in the way we hope it can," Dave Anderson, Frauenshuh's project team leader, told a crowd of about 100 gathered to view and ask questions about the final three concepts.
Bill Neuendorf, Edina's economic development manager, said the City Council has been very clear that it wants to consider a public-private mix in the Grandview development, a formula that's been very successful at Edinborough Park and Centennial Lakes.
"The idea is that the private use would help pay for the public use," Neuendorf said. "Some think that's a great idea, some think it's a horrible idea. But that's the path that we're on." The next step is to flesh out the three preliminary concepts based on community feedback, then present them to the public in more detail next month. After further public input on the three finalists, the City Council in June will be asked to select one of the concepts as a final direction for the site.
Supporters of the project questioned whether the opponents truly represent public sentiment.
"They are a minority voice who are passionate, well organized and have my respect for all the work they have done," said Chris Rofidal, who served on several citizen task forces on Grandview planning, including the executive committee Montgomery was on. "They are all good people who see a different view of Grandview, a view that does not align with previous Community Advisory Teams and the City Council."
Rofidal pointed to a wide array of websites and planning documents showing extensive public involvement over a span of more than five years.
"This idea that residents are not being listened to is not accurate," he said. "I would contend the city has done a great job of reaching out and listening."
With the council and city staff considering only public-private proposals, it may be too late to change the outcome, Montgomery conceded.
"I think this train has left the station," she said. "But we're trying to stop it because we think it's the right thing to do. And the community deserves more than it's getting from its elected officials."