When engineers shared designs for a new water treatment plant at Southdale Center last week, Edina Planning Commission members praised it as “amazing” and “beautiful.”
But it wasn’t enough for members of the Edina City Council, who on Wednesday asked architects to go back to the drawing board and return with an even bolder look.
“I feel like we’re partway there,” Edina Mayor James Hovland said during the council meeting. “There is so much more we can do here in creating something that is really special for our town.”
The treatment facility would be built in front of the city’s water tower on the northeast corner of France Avenue S. and W. 69th Street. It would reduce iron and manganese, remove sediment and improve the water’s taste and clarity.
The proposed building, estimated to cost $10.5 million, would have been made of brick and stone. It would have included a patio, greenery on the roof and walls and colored lights that would “evoke the sense of water,” according to documents. An interactive screen on the north side of the building would have explained how the plant functions.
Council members, however, felt the team could take it further.
“What I would suggest is we double down on this effort,” Council Member Kevin Staunton said. “I think we make it an iconic place.”
That thought was echoed by other elected officials, including Council Member Mike Fischer, head of the Minneapolis branch of architecture firm LHB.
“At the end of the day, we’re not really just building a water treatment plant,” Fischer said. “We’re building our city.”
Fischer suggested teaming up with the city’s Arts and Culture Commission and placing public art along the property. Hovland and Staunton pointed to structures such as the Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park and sleek parking garages in Miami as inspiration for the project.
The council Wednesday approved site plans and a variance reducing building setbacks along France Avenue. Engineers are expected to share an updated design in a month.
Council members were supportive of the plan’s cost and efficiency. Other proposed sites would have cost millions more and required repairing existing water infrastructure, Engineering Director Chad Millner had previously said.
They were also impressed with the design’s emphasis on teaching residents about city services.
“Cities are looking at fitting their utilities into the fabric of what their communities are,” Council Member Mary Brindle said. “I just think we’re going to be really proud of this.”