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In Minneapolis, city leaders say they’re hearing from developers interested in sites near four of its stations such as the Royalston station near the farmers market. And an analysis is being done on the potential for development near the Van White station area.
A neighborhood transformed
In St. Louis Park, the area of Hwy. 100 and W. 36th Street, once a tired industrial area, has been transformed with an influx of apartments and condos near where the proposed Wooddale station would be, Community Development Director Kevin Locke said.
“It’s an added point of interest from them,” he said of the light rail. “We’d expect that once light rail is committed or built, there will be even more development opportunities.”
In fact, a proposal for the former McGarvey Coffee building off Hwy. 7 won’t get approval, he said, until the line and stations are finalized because it’s so close to a station.
Next door in Hopkins, construction is underway now for a 163-unit apartment building one block from the city’s proposed downtown station, while an affordable apartment building project next to the planned Blake Road station is going through the proposal process.
In Minnetonka, a proposed medical building off Shady Oak Road and Excelsior Boulevard also includes transit-friendly housing because it’s near the station. And a medical-technology firm just moved to the city in part because it’s near a future station, Community Development Director Julie Wischnack said.
Line was a draw for health titan
But the big spike in light-rail-influenced development, Walker said, may not come until after the project is approved. A recent analysis of the Hiawatha, or Blue Line, showed that light rail caused almost no increase in the likelihood of new development near rail platforms in its first six years. Yet, even researchers said development has taken off since 2010 — after the years they studied — likely because of an improving economy and the effects of light rail taking time.
Proponents like Locke, in St. Louis Park, say Southwest development is likely to be different because it’s a longer line built after the economy rebounded and includes a lot of potential development sites.
“With the Southwest line being really the third element in the system, you start to see more potential,” he said. “The more extensive our light rail is, the more possibilities for development.”
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141