Stores could open on the former Lockheed Martin corporate campus by spring 2016 after revised plans for the Central Park Commons retail and medical office project won unanimous approval Feb. 3 from the Eagan City Council.

The plan, CSM Corp.’s third proposal in four years for redeveloping the Lockheed Martin site, responded to council and staff requests to include more trails, public gathering spaces, landscaping and smaller parking lots.

The plan for the site northwest of Pilot Knob and Yankee Doodle roads calls for 434,000 square feet of retail and office space, down from 525,000 square feet. The new layout includes a 47,000-square-foot medical office building, a 93,000-square-foot grocery store and a 37,000-square-foot fitness club.

Sidewalks will offer paths through public areas of the site and connect to trails surrounding it. A group of restaurants with patios and outdoor dining would overlook ponds, a waterfall and fountains on the northeast corner of the property along Pilot Knob Road. There will be bridges for bikes and pedestrians over the water features.

“I’m really pleased that you really have made a concerted effort to make this different, unique, a destination,” City Council Member Meg Tilley told John Johannson, who is overseeing the project for CSM Corp., which acquired the 47-acre site in 2011. “You listened to what we said. It’s very walkable, and I think that’s very important.”

Mayor Mike Maguire said he believed Central Park Commons would complement Twin Cities Premium Outlets, the 100-store outlet mall that opened in August in Eagan.

“One of the things I hear about the outlet mall is what a different shopping experience people have there and how much they appreciate that,” Maguire said. “(Central Park Commons) has the opportunity to create that exact same kind of experience … where people come not just to shop but to have a really unique and fun and enjoyable shopping experience. That’s exactly what we asked you for four years ago, so I appreciate your delivering that.”

Council members unanimously approved rezoning and other steps to clear the way for the development to proceed, voting after raising few questions and with no residents commenting on the project. A neighborhood meeting two weeks ago drew two dozen residents and generally favorable feedback, Johannson said.

“It’s taken a long time to get here,” Maguire said. “When you finally get it right, it gets done, there’s not a lot of hoopla around it and not a lot of excitement.”

Process improved plan

Johannson said the plan is better for having gone through the lengthy process with the City Council and planning staff.

“Our intention here is to over-deliver and develop something that we’d be very proud of,” Johannson told the council. “I guess that’s a personal promise.”

Johannson highlighted features of the project, which now includes a curved road running west to east through the property instead of the straight one in previous plans.

Larger buildings would go near the perimeter with a “village” of smaller structures in the center, creating an inward focus to the project. The village will have smaller streets with angle parking and shops on both sides. The departure of a large retailer from the project and the sharing of parking between the medical office building and restaurants resulted in smaller parking lots.

The developer describes the project as a “mixed-use, urban-style development” that is “noticeably different than the older existing retail hubs in the immediate trade area.”

CSM Corp. is not seeking any public financing for the $70 million project.

“They put a lot of work into fine-tuning the plan and the layout and finally got to a point where they were comfortable with it,” City Planner Mike Ridley said. “It’s the culmination of all the work that went into it and getting a plan that is not only market-supportable but something that they believe the city will support as well.”

A market study the city accepted in December 2011 found that the immediate trade area is “under-retailed” and could support an open-air shopping center of 630,000 to 940,000 square feet by 2020.

Demolition of the 620,000-square-foot Lockheed building is to begin this month and continue into April or May, with grading and utility work to follow. The first stores could open as soon as the spring of 2016.

 

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail address is todd_nelson@mac.com.