Hundreds of acres of Chaska farmland on the edge of the metro area may one day be replaced by a business park, housing and a new grocery store.
Chaska leaders will consider plans Monday for a new Hy-Vee and a medical office building at the northern part of what has been called the Southwest Growth Area, a nearly 2,000-acre district divided by Hwy. 212 and County Road 140. Several new housing developments have already sprung up there, and city leaders are hoping the Legislature will approve a $10.5 million highway interchange seen as integral to jump-starting the business park.
“Our number one goal has been to try to use this as an opportunity to create as many jobs as we can out there,” said City Administrator Matt Podhradsky.
The planned business park also requires extending the regional wastewater system beyond the Metropolitan Council’s existing boundaries for the year 2030. The council signed off on the change this September, but the idea of expanding the sewer system and opening up new land for development didn’t sit well with some.
Metropolitan Council Member Cara Letofsky said a sewer expansion implies there’s not land available to develop elsewhere within the existing wastewater boundaries.
“That is clearly not the case,” she said before a committee vote. “We have a lot of land use capacity within our existing system.”
Council spokeswoman Bonnie Kollodge noted that Chaska already has regional wastewater service, making its request distinct from sewer expansion into a rural community. She added there is enough capacity in the wastewater system to handle the additional flow.
Podhradsky said development of the area was inevitable, noting that nearby communities like Carver are developing farther west.
Much of the area reserved for the business park was previously part of a greenbelt around the city. Podhradsky said they are preserving parts of it by clustering development to distinguish Chaska from other suburbs that blend into one another. Chaska was a thriving city long before auto-oriented suburbs crept out to its borders, and officials want to maintain defined boundaries.
“If you assume that development was going to happen here eventually, this is the best way to try to preserve as much of those natural open spaces as possible, so that those get preserved permanently into the future,” Podhradsky said.
The groundwork for the Southwest Growth Area has been laid slowly over many years. Part of the area under consideration used to be Chaska Township, which the city annexed in 2005, and the state converted Hwy. 212 from a two-lane road into a freeway-style thoroughfare in 2006.
Podhradsky said they hope the business park will attract high-end research, development or manufacturing jobs. Depending on when the interchange is constructed, he expects the full development of the area could take 20 years.
Hy-Vee is expected to be the one commercial component of the new growth area. The grocery chain, which has been rapidly opening stores around the Twin Cities, is proposing a grocery store with an attached gas station and more than 500 parking spaces. A city document said construction on the grocery store could begin in spring 2019.