The Woodbury City Council earlier this month approved a plan to build a 90,000-square-foot retail center, anchored by a large grocery story and shops and restaurants, which officials said will serve the less-developed parts of southern Woodbury and northern Cottage Grove.

City officials said they hope the pedestrian-oriented project, called Bielenberg Gardens, will kick-start development in that part of town. A site plan submitted by developer United Properties calls for the construction of a 68,000-square-foot grocery store, with an attached 6,500-square-foot liquor store and a 12,300-square-foot "multitenant retail building and several retail outlets," with shops, restaurants, a convenience store, bank and gas station envisioned.

The project will be built on the southwest corner of Radio Drive and Bailey Road. Officials say the new grocery store will be operated by Jerry's Enterprises, an Edina-based company that has 37 other grocery stores — including Jerry's Foods, Cub Foods, County Market and Save-A-Lot — in three states. A call to a company spokeswoman Wednesday was not immediately returned.

"It's a new development in an area that currently doesn't have a lot of service, either grocery stores or drugstores. It's an area that's newly developing, so this will provide a service for the residents that are there," said Planning Commission Chairman Rusty Nereng, who along with two other members voted to approve the center.

Plans for the so-called urban village also include trails, perennial gardens, an underground pedestrian tunnel, benches and a new stormwater retention pond. Rick McKelvey, assistant vice president of development at United Properties, described the village as "a grouping of closely-knit properties on moderately small lots, all connected by trails and sidewalks and significant landscaping."

The City Council authorized the site plan for the project at its Sept. 11 meeting, after it narrowly passed the Planning Commission in late August. A rezoning application and conditional-use permit were also approved.

McKelvey said the Bloomington-based developer still has to secure land disturbance and grading permits before construction can begin but that the company hopes to break ground by the middle of next month. The much-delayed project is expected to be completed by fall 2014.

Some officials remain concerned about the project's "walkability."

"It was my hope that we could create something with a bit more of a neighborhoody feel, that people would feel comfortable walking around in," said another member of the commission, Bill Betten. "Within Woodbury, this is really our last shot at doing this combination. And it is my hope that we could do something that could balance residential with existing services."

The 30-acre site is in an area dominated by farmland that was largely untouched by the city's construction boom. But city officials and developers have big plans for the more than 2,100 acres of underdeveloped land.

The city wants to add "up to 6,000 units over the next 10 to 15 years" to the area, senior planner Eric Searles said. "The council has approved three residential developments to date. As of now, they are all single-family developments," he said.

A 275-unit senior housing complex is also planned for the Bielenberg Gardens site, named after the city's first mayor, and is tentatively scheduled to open in late 2014 or early 2015.

"Support from the residents of south Woodbury has been there since the beginning — for necessary goods and services like groceries, gas, quick-serving good and banking," United Properties senior vice president of retail development Keith Ulstad said in a news release. "With the completion of the Radio Drive upgrade, the extension of sewer and comprehensive modeling, we're excited to be entering the execution and delivery phase of Bielenberg Gardens."