A judge sided this month with the city of Wayzata in a lawsuit filed by developer Brad Hoyt's company after the city rejected a development proposal.
The company, Wayzata-based Continental Property Group, sued the city in January after city leaders turned down its proposal for a five-story mixed-use building in an area zoned for three-story buildings. Afterward, Hoyt drew even more attention when he painted an abandoned building that he wanted to redevelop a hot pink with size triple Xs.
Now, Hennepin County District Judge Thomas Sipkins has ruled in favor of the city, writing in his Aug. 13 order that the city's decisions were reasonable and city officials "acted in good faith and with the broad discretion accorded them by statute and relevant ordinances."
"We're certainly pleased with the decision," said attorney Paul Reuvers, who represented the city. "The city is ready, willing and able to work with Mr. Hoyt … and look for an appropriate development. Five stories is just too big."
Hoyt is now part of a new preliminary concept plan for three-story office buildings in downtown Lake Minnetonka. Attorney Mike Mergens, who represented Continental Property Group, said they're still deciding whether to appeal the decision.
Continental Property Group first got approval for a three-story development in 2005, but returned last year with new plans to redevelop two neighboring pieces of land at 253 and 259 Lake St. into a five-story building with 148 apartments, retail and parking.
After the city denied it, saying it didn't fit the city's zoning code, Hoyt, who's been involved with a half-dozen lawsuits on development deals in the Twin Cities, and his company sued the city.
In the lawsuit, they argued that the denials were arbitrary, that no other use for the land was economically viable and that the old Bay Center Mall redevelopment on the other side of the city's downtown had been developed into a five-story project, the Promenade of Wayzata. It has a mix of retail, offices and residential — the largest redevelopment project in Wayzata's history.
The city countered that the Bay Center project was more than 13 acres, so the height of the project was negotiable, according to city ordinances, and that Continental Property Group's five-story plan was out of character and would negatively impact the city.
Now, Hoyt, who didn't return calls for comment, is looking to move forward, working with a couple other property owners and the city on new concept plans.
Last week, the City Council discussed preliminary concept plans for a $28 million project with three individual three-story office buildings — 90,000 square feet of office space total in addition to a 352-spot parking ramp; Hoyt and the other property owners would ask for public assistance through tax-increment financing for the estimated $9.7 million construction cost of the ramp, which would be used by the public during off-hours.
The concept is still in the early phases of the process, though.
"It could help solve the parking issues on the west end long-range," architect Neil Weber told council members Aug. 18, "and cause these three properties to be developed in a way that I think is positive for the city."