Wayzata redevelopment takes shape

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 30, 2013 - 4:02 PM

The $125 million first phase of the Wayzata Bay Center project is nearing its final stretches.

The largest redevelopment project in Wayzata’s history is taking shape this summer.

Despite a wet and rainy spring that set back some construction work by two weeks, the $125 million first phase of the Promenade of Wayzata now remains on schedule and on budget, officials said, as it heads into the final stretches of construction this fall.

“We’re on track and we want to stay on track,” said John Mehrkens, vice president of project development for Roseville-based Presbyterian Homes & Services. “It’s certainly a very large and ambitious project.”

The 14.5-acre project, if fully completed as planned, will include five blocks of new senior housing, 130,000 square feet of retail, condos, office space, a 100-room hotel and a one-acre park on the eastern edge of Wayzata’s downtown off Lake Street and Superior Boulevard. It’s the largest-ever redevelopment project for the city in scale, size and investment, Mayor Ken Willcox said, and part of Wayzata’s broader goal to become a Twin Cities destination.

“It should be very positive for the city,” he said.

Wayzata, one of three cities on Lake Minnetonka with commercial shoreline, considers itself the “gateway” to the popular metro lake and wants to bolster and cash in on year-round tourism. Last year, the city launched a massive 10-year process to redesign the lakefront to make the city more attractive as a destination. As that process continues this fall, the city is also exploring creating a scenic byway around the lake to help market the region.

The Promenade of Wayzata redevelopment is just another large piece of ramping up tourism. The city approved the project in 2008, demolishing last year the old Bay Center Mall, a 1960s-vintage shopping center located on swampland near the lake.

“One of the reasons we first approved it was to reach a critical mass of retail that would make Wayzata a destination for shoppers,” Willcox said.

Since then, about 300 construction workers have been working on the site’s first phase, which includes two buildings with ground-level retail shops, a Lunds grocery store and 225 senior living apartments that will provide a mix of independent living, assisted living and memory care.

Crews are starting to install lights and appliances before the 90 units of independent senior apartments open Oct. 10, welcoming many residents who haven’t traveled far. Of the 90 units, 87 percent are pre-leased now and of those, 70 percent of the residents are coming from within a 5- or 6-mile radius of Wayzata, Mehrkens said.

Of the retail space, 75 percent is pre-leased, he said, with Lunds being the anchor tenant. The grocery store is slated to open Dec. 2 at the corner of Mill Street and Superior Boulevard.

“It’s exciting to see the finishings of the buildings come out,” City Manager Heidi Nelson said. “It’s certainly changing the landscape a bit in Wayzata.”

In the next month, construction crews will begin on the second phase of the project, working on two more of the five buildings, which have an additional 63,000 square feet of retail. Leasing out much of that retail space is needed before moving forward with the fifth and final building on the east block — the one housing a planned and much-anticipated 60,000-square-foot hotel, retail and restaurant.

Although the city fielded many complaints about the size, scale, concentration of seniors and even the tax-increment financing for the project when it was first proposed, Willcox said that, as the project starts to take shape, residents are mostly supportive of how it could benefit the city.

“I think people are past those things and recognize that it will be good for the city,” he said.

“It’s impressive and it’s hopeful.”

 

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 Twitter: @kellystrib

  • Wayzata project By the numbers

    130,000 square feet of retail

    325 senior housing units

    85 condos or rental apartments

    30,000 square feet of office

    100-room hotel

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