Bids for a cattail removal project in two Robbinsdale lakes came in several times higher than expected, stunning city officials and leading them to reject both bids at Tuesday's meeting in favor of pursuing other removal solutions.
The city estimated that cattail clean-out in South Twin Lake and Ryan Lake would cost $50,000, though the city engineer had put the cost at $145,300.
Even so, the city thought it could get some of the work done for $50,000, said City Manager Marcia Glick.
Of six companies the city contacted to submit bids, two came back: one from G.F. Jedlicki of Chanhassen for $511,046 and another from Sunram Construction of Corcoran for $345,145.
Glick noted that the last time the city requested bids on the same project, no one responded.
When asked about the cost discrepancy, Glick said that when the city embarks on a new kind of project, officials have to guess at the cost.
"Why are the bids so high? Maybe because it's not easy to do," she said.
Having tried to remove cattails from her own property, Glick said the plants are "heavy and difficult."
In general, cattails provide fish habitat and prevent shore erosion, but too many have grown in the Robbinsdale lakes.
Officials plan to look into whether they can rent equipment and do the project in-house, or if the Shingle Creek Watershed District could provide funding or assistance. They will also contact the contractors to see if doing the project at another time of year would lower the cost.
City weighs proposal for Penney's space
After J.C. Penney in Coon Rapids' Riverdale Village shuttered over the summer, the new owner is asking the city to approve plans to repurpose the large retail space.
The store was built in 2002 as part of the original outdoor mall development in Coon Rapids.
That location, along with two others in Minnesota — in Maple Grove and Willmar — were among the first wave of 154 J.C. Penney store closures as part of a nationwide restructuring when the business filed for bankruptcy in May 2020.
Proposed changes to the vacant Coon Rapids store include converting the 71,810-square-foot space into five smaller tenant spaces.
Owner North American Development Group, based in Florida, purchased Riverdale Village, which includes Best Buy and Dick's Sporting Goods, in September 2020 for $70 million.
The development group is targeting the former J.C. Penney site in the first phase of redevelopment to be "more reflective of today's retail market" with smaller-sized tenants, according to city documents.
In addition to elevation changes, the rear 20,000 square feet will be demolished to create space for two new loading bays if approved by the Planning Commission and City Council.
The commission signed off on the redevelopment plans at Thursday night's meeting, though the recommendation can be appealed by the City Council within 10 days.
Representatives with North American Development Group said they were not allowed to disclose prospective tenants but indicated there was existing interest to fill some, but not all, of the five spaces.