A mix of retail and senior living apartments will sprout in downtown Wayzata, thanks to an improving economy.
Backhoes, dump trucks and front-end loaders are rolling into downtown Wayzata this week to demolish the Wayzata Bay Center, a 1960s-vintage shopping center.
The long-awaited tear-down of the empty brick buildings is slated to begin Monday, and the 14.5 acres will be transformed in phases to include five blocks of new senior housing, retail stores, condos, office space and a hotel.
"This is something that we've been waiting for," said Wayzata Mayor Ken Willcox. "It got delayed only because of the poor economy and it's been really frustrating that we couldn't get it in the ground sooner."
The project, called the Promenade of Wayzata, is owned by Presbyterian Homes & Services, based in Roseville. Its $125 million first phase will build two five-story buildings for ground-level retail shops and 225 senior living apartments. Company officials said options will include 148 independent senior units, 58 assisted living apartments, 18 memory care suites and 30 skilled nursing care suites.
Senior project manager Dave Herzberg of Adolfson and Peterson Construction said demolition work will take about a month, and will be followed by pile driving for the new buildings that will begin construction this summer and fall.
The construction firm will also have a crusher on site, he said, to reclaim and salvage steel and copper and re-use some of the crushed concrete for temporary roads.
"With anything like this, the community's probably going to have a little anxiety over it and lots of questions," said Herzberg. "We want to try to make the best of it for everyone and minimize the amount of impact to the community."
Part of that effort was a pair of informational meetings last week that each drew about 20 residents. Many of the questions were about traffic, noise and parking, Herzberg said.
No long-term street closures or traffic rerouting are expected, he said. The additional truck traffic will be restricted to Wayzata Boulevard and the east half of Superior Boulevard, Herzberg said, and must avoid all residential streets, as well as Lake Street, which serves the city's lakefront and downtown shops and restaurants.
Willcox said the project will strengthen the west metro city's businesses, improve Wayzata as a destination point for tourism, and make the city a more interesting and vibrant place to live. The project will also have a "tremendous" stormwater treatment system, said Willcox, that will handle runoff from its property and surrounding streets, and clean it before discharge into Lake Minnetonka.
To get those benefits, the city will need to pay the price of a somewhat disruptive summer and fall, he said.
Each building will require 45 days of pile driving, Willcox said, and the city also is planning unrelated sidewalk replacement and some other construction in the downtown area.
Presbyterian Homes spokeswoman Cindy Ray said that construction of the first phase, to be called Folkestone senior living community, will be completed in late 2013.
She said that future phases will include additional senior housing as well as all-age condominiums and perhaps apartments. A 100-room hotel is also planned for the area, she said, depending on future market conditions.
Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388