3789 Coon Rapids Blvd., Coon Rapids

Type: Medical office Size: 32,000 square feet

Site area: 3.8 acres Contractor: RJM Construction

Details: North Suburban Eye Specialists, currently at 3750 Coon Rapids Blvd., has received site plan approval for a new 32,000-square-foot building across the street at the long-vacant site of a former car dealership.

The Coon Rapids City Council on Aug. 8 gave its consent for the project in one of four redevelopment areas along the thoroughfare called PORTS, or "preservation or renovation tracts,'' which were established in 2000 to reinvigorate the once-bustling commercial strip along Coon Rapids Boulevard -- also known as Old Hwy. 10.

The new facility will be part of PORT Wellness at the intersection with Round Lake Boulevard, which was formerly home to the McKay and Carlson Toyota auto dealerships and a shuttered Frank's Nursery and Crafts store.

The medical-themed area is anchored by Mercy Hospital -- which at the same council meeting received approval for a new, 120,000-square-foot medical office building in the PORT Wellness zone.

The North Suburban project will be adjacent to an already-approved, 100-unit senior housing development on the former Frank's site. The general ophthalmology practice facility will feature an exterior of brick, stone, architectural metals and a base of precast limestone -- the elements and materials mirror those planned for the next-door senior housing building.

Building designers Sperides Reiners Architects asked for and received a number of variances from the Port Wellness guidelines, one of the main ones being the amount of glass called for in the city code. The plans include fewer windows along the side of the building that houses exam rooms, since too much light interferes with eye exams. North Suburban has told city officials it plans to begin construction in September or October.

Don Jacobson is a freelance writer. He can be contacted at hotproperty.startribune@gmail.com.