In October, developer City Homes Design + Build LLC will begin construction of a new housing subdivision in Edina’s Morningside neighborhood. The development, which includes seven new luxury homes, has been christened Acres DuBois after the late Dr. Franklin DuBois Sidell, whose family owned the land for more than 50 years.
The Sidells held a community meeting on Aug. 7 to introduce the developer to residents. City Homes, which closed on the property in late July, hosted a second meeting last Thursday at the city’s public works facility to go over proposed improvements to its stormwater management plan. City Homes will present the plan to the City Council on Sept. 4.
Several years ago, the Sidell family got to talking about “what to do with the property, what do we want, should it exist as is?” said Frank Sidell, the family’s representative.
In the end, “We said we want to pass on the maximum legacy to our kids,” he said.
That meant selling the land, most likely to a developer. But the family wanted to have some control over what happened with the property — in a way acting as a developer, so the results “would be something the neighborhood could be proud of,” Sidell said.
Some community members didn’t want to see the change, he said. However, the family has worked to come up with a plan that eases some people’s concerns, he said, adding, “It was a good learning experience.”
Since the preliminary plat was approved by the City Council in February, the family has focused on finding a developer to bring it to fruition. The Sidells met with 10 developers before it settled on City Homes. Sidell said the company was a good fit, as it already builds “custom quality homes” in the neighborhood that are “right-sized for the neighborhood.”
Sidell’s mother, Iris Sidell, who is 91, recently moved out of the family home to Parkshore Senior Community in St. Louis Park. Sidell’s home on the north side of the land, which dates to the 1950s, will stay put. “Now I’m a neighbor,” he said.
Construction will begin in October, when the family home will be torn down, according to Rebecca Remick of City Homes Design + Build LLC. Work on the road that will cut through the property, which is being called Sidell Trail — the city’s first new street in over a decade — will also start in October. The street includes a cul-de-sac and a sidewalk.
A Tudor-style model home playing off the Sidell estate will be developed over the winter, Remick said. Other homes will be built in spring 2015.
The seven homes will “flow with the Morningside neighborhood,” which features an eclectic mix of architectural periods and styles. “We’ll pay a lot of attention to the exterior detailing,” Remick said. Already, “we have three people who have put deposits down and we will continue to accept deposits with the lots going to people on a first-come, first-serve basis,” she said.
Before construction begins, City Homes is looking at ways to improve the development’s stormwater management plan to preserve 15 to 20 old oak trees and to better manage runoff, according to Remick.
For starters, stormwater containment would be moved underground on a parcel “where it can be combined with storage for city runoff and infiltrated in a more ready fashion to the groundwater table,” Remick said.
Robert Wachholz, president of True Gravity Ventures, which is working on this issue, said it could be engineered to “safely capture and infiltrate approximately 59,000 cubic feet of water.” The city’s open space would then be “improved from a largely unusable swale to a flat, turfed, play area.”
And, additional measures “to further mitigate impacts to trees can be made, including realigning the utility and shifting the road and other utilities over 5 feet to 10 feet within Acres DuBois,” he said.
Chad Millner, a director of engineering for the city, added, “The pond is undersized today. There’s some flooding. This would help with that and make it aesthetically more pleasing.”
After the presentation, neighbors Jim and Connie Wilde expressed concerns about how many trees will be preserved amid construction, since there’s no guarantee. Also, the Wildes aren’t looking forward to the construction noise. On a broader level, they fear that the cul-de-sac configuration could take away from the connectedness of the community, as it “creates its own community,” Jim Wilde said.
Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.