When it comes to commercial redevelopment in Golden Valley, the focus has almost exclusively been on the Interstate 394 corridor.
That’s understandable because of the luxury apartment complexes that emerged there, like Trammell Crow’s newly opened Arcata and the Three.Nine.Four from developer Mark Globus now awaiting launch.
But another part of the suburb is also seeing an impressive redevelopment spurt. It’s the area in and around the northeast quadrant of the Hwy. 55/169 interchange, which is not as high-profile as the I-394 corridor but is proving attractive to commercial developers.
Long characterized by city officials as “tired” and “underutilized,” the stretch of Golden Valley Road between Hwy. 169 and Boone Avenue N. — running parallel to and just north of Hwy. 55 — is now the scene of three redevelopment projects, including a new 172-unit apartment building on the site of a former bowling alley at 9130-9220 Olson Hwy.
The other new buildings will be replacing a shuttered fast-food restaurant and a vacant, one-story office building, all of which the city says were contributing to the aura of blight.
The fact that the three projects are happening at the same time is partly a coincidence but also a result of the city’s determination to catch the postrecession wave of commercial reinvestment through planning and incentives, Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris said.
“There’s going to be 4,000 new residents in Golden Valley over the next 20 to 30 years, and we’re a pretty much built-out community, so we saw opportunity here,” he said. “We created a redevelopment zone for that area several years ago. The City Council and staff saw that it was in need of significant improvements, while at the same time we needed places for new housing that wouldn’t change the character of our existing neighborhoods.”
Tax-increment financing was made available for any developer who was willing to tear down the eyesore that was the Golden Valley Bowl and build apartments along just the kind of high-traffic west metro highway corridor now coming into vogue with builders. An initial stab at redeveloping the site fell through in 2012, but this year’s proposal for the 172-unit Hello Apartments from Continental Property Group and Excelsior developer William Stoddard is a go.
Nearby at 9000 Golden Valley Road, the Schuett Companies, which owns and manages affordable senior apartments throughout Minnesota, has received approvals to build a five-story complex that will also house its corporate offices. The spot now is the site of a shuttered Wendy’s hamburger franchise.
Meanwhile, Jewish Housing and Programming has acquired parcels at 9300 and 9310 Golden Valley Road, a site that now holds a vacant one-story office building and a single-family home. The nonprofit is raising funds to construct the $8.3 million Cornerstone Creek project providing 45 units of supportive housing for low-income and disabled residents. It acquired the parcels with the help of a $350,000 federal community development block grant recommended by the city.
The imminent opening of a TruStone Financial Credit Union at the corner of Boone Avenue and Hwy. 55 also adds to the redevelopment momentum in a formerly sleepy part of the city, planning manager Jason Zimmerman said.
“Now that the recession’s over, we’re seeing a new round of interest from developers in areas off the I-394 corridor,” he said. “For instance, the opportunity at the Golden Valley Bowl site had been there for a while, but the economic conditions and demand for multifamily housing had to be right for it to work financially.”
Somewhat similarly, the Cornerstone Creek project has been in the works for several years, but once the land for it was secured and the project approved, Zimmerman said, “the effects of that trickled down and created a kind of critical mass that came into play when the Wendy’s closed and Schuett Companies came in with their proposal for that site.”
Don Jacobson is a freelance writer in St. Paul. He is the former editor of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Real Estate Journal.