Work is beginning on the first phases of a $49 million project to pave the way for MOA expansion and the development of the South Loop area.
Three years of construction in the Mall of America area kicks off this month in Bloomington, clearing the way for mall expansion and redevelopment of the South Loop in the city's northeastern corner.
The bulk of the work, which carries a price tag of $49 million, will come next year. But the groundwork for major change is being laid this spring and summer with building demolition, moving of utility lines and the addition of a new pedestrian bridge on the mall's south side.
At the "T" of Lindau Lane and 24th Avenue S., work already has started with the razing of former office buildings and a warehouse near the mall's northeast corner. That will open the way for the eventual extension of Lindau to 30th Avenue S., building a major connection to the city's South Loop area between the mall and the Minnesota River.
Larry Lee, the city's community development director, said that's key to change in the South Loop, where two-thirds of Bloomington's redevelopment opportunities are located.
"Bloomington's philosophy is that if we put in the infrastructure, they will come," he said. "We've had success with that in the past."
The South Loop contains the mall, HealthPartners' corporate offices, the headquarters of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and four light-rail stations. Bloomington officials envision the area becoming densely residential, with townhouses, condos and apartment buildings and a design that makes it easy to walk and bike. Hotels, a grocery store and office buildings also are in the mix.
In June, construction will begin on a pedestrian bridge that will span Killebrew Drive and join with the Radisson Blu hotel on the mall's south side. City Engineer Shelly Pederson said that while lane closures may narrow Killebrew Drive during construction, the road will remain open except for a couple of night closures to set steel beams for the bridge.
The bridge is expected to open in March 2013. Pedestrians will be able to cross the street on the bridge and walk through the hotel to the mall.
"That will make it a safer crossing; there won't be so many conflicts with traffic," Pederson said.
Around midsummer, part of International Drive will be repaved. Pederson said lanes will be closed, but the road should remain open. That work will be finished in the fall.
In the last half of this year, utility lines will be moved from Lindau Lane north of the mall. That will allow the roadway to be lowered next year. A bridge or pad will be built over the sunken street, forming part of the base for Phase II of the mall.
This fall, a deeper storm sewer pipe will be installed along 24th Avenue to handle drainage from the sunken Lindau Lane. Pederson said that most of the construction will take place in the boulevard, using a boring technique that will minimize disruption at the surface. The road will be closed only as needed, and closures probably will involve only one northbound lane on 24th Avenue, she said.
The $49 million in construction work over the next three years is being paid for with $15.45 million from the state and $33.35 million from local sources, including tax-increment financing by the mall. The majority of the road work will occur next year, with the reconfiguration of Lindau Lane and the redesign of the Interstate 494 and 34th Avenue intersection into a "diverging diamond interchange."
It will be the third diverging diamond in Minnesota. None is open yet: One is under construction in St. Cloud, and another near Rochester is expected to be under construction soon, Pederson said.
Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380 Twitter: @smetan