Against Richfield’s wishes, Edina has modified its comprehensive plan to permit more dense development in a roughly four-block stretch along Xerxes Avenue, which is the border between the two cities.
Officials in Edina say they were merely cleaning up a discrepancy in the city’s comprehensive plan at the request of the Metropolitan Council, and council staff approved the changes.
But in Richfield, which has already objected to two tall developments along its border, the move is seen as something that will change the character of the area to the detriment of single-family homes across the street.
“We did anticipate more development pressure on the Edina side, but we were expecting perhaps four-story buildings,” said Richfield City Planner Melissa Poehlman. “We permit seven to 12 dwellings per acre in that area, and [Edina now permits] up to .”
Edina, where development never really stopped even during the recession, has been bombarded with development requests to build residential buildings in the Southdale area. On the Edina side, Xerxes between 67th and 71st Streets historically was lined with businesses like pizza places and car dealers that were a low-rise commercial buffer between Richfield and Southdale.
In Richfield, the same stretch was residential, lined with one-and-a-half story Cape Cods and ramblers.
Now developers want to build apartments and condos on the Edina side. In 2011 the York Place Apartments were built, and Richfield residents thought the building was too high. More recently, Lennar Multi-Family Communities won Edina City Council approval to build a six-story apartment building.
Richfield residents protested that the building would cast homes across the street in shadow for part of the day. At Edina’s request, Lennar made many changes to its apartment plans on the Xerxes side, staggering building floors back so they didn’t loom over the street, eliminating a loading dock and driveway from the Richfield side and shifting much of the density to the York side of the building.
“The main focus in our council reviewing this was reducing the impact to the Richfield side,” said Cary Teague, Edina’s planning director.
Edina now has changed its comprehensive plan to allow six- rather than four-story buildings in the area, and buildings with 12 to 75 dwellings per acre. The plan previously allowed for only two to three units per acre, but Teague said that was a glitch or a misprint.
He said Edina sees the area as mixed-use, with housing and commercial properties.
Poehlman said Richfield officials understand that Southdale is intensely developed and that Edina is under pressure to permit more dense development there.
“What we would like is that the bulk and the mass should be concentrated toward York Avenue,” she said. “We amended our plan to allow townhouse development [along Xerxes] ... but now the [Edina] changes make the transition more abrupt.”
She and Teague agreed the two cities generally have a good relationship.
“We would like to continue to talk to Edina about mass and bulk,” she said.