The updated plan for development at Viking Lakes, the area around the Minnesota Vikings' headquarters and practice facilities, nixes a second hotel, cuts out sustainability guidelines and adds four days for the city of Eagan to hold events on the plaza area.
The new plan will guide about five years of construction by MV Ventures, the Minnesota development arm of the Vikings' ownership, at the 200-acre campus near Dodd Road and Interstate 494.
"It's very important to us that we get this right," said Don Becker, MV Ventures' executive vice president.
Development there is about halfway done, city officials said. The city approved previous plans in 2016 and the NFL team moved its headquarters there in 2018.
The Omni Viking Lakes Hotel opened last fall during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 14-story, 320-room hotel includes the Kyndred Hearth restaurant led by James Beard Award-winning chef Ann Kim.
The updated plan no longer calls for another hotel because "we've done everything we wanted" with the existing hotel, Becker said.
The new plan also reconfigures housing on the site, eliminating medium-density housing in favor of all high-density rental housing — mostly four-story apartments with garages below. The first 261 apartments will open in September.
City officials are excited they can use Viking Lakes plaza area four days per year for concerts, art events and other gatherings, said Jill Hutmacher, Eagan community development director, adding that the details weren't nailed down previously.
The Eagan City Council approved the plan in April with a 4-1 vote. Council Member Mike Supina said removing the sustainability elements was disappointing enough for him to vote against it.
The sustainability design guidelines had included using renewable energy, permeable paving, underground stormwater retention ponds and collecting rainwater for irrigation.
"I'm concerned that taking all of it out of the 2016 agreement kind of sends the wrong message as far as our commitment to sustainability," Supina said. "For a development this big and this visible, kind of a landmark in Eagan, I really would like to see … environmental or sustainability provisions included."
MV Ventures officials said they haven't written off using Earth-friendly components. But some, like permeable pavement, didn't make sense once officials learned more about the land. Clay-like soil meant water wouldn't soak into the ground, meaning the pavers weren't viable, and the site had ample room for aboveground stormwater ponds.
"We're trying to work very hard to accomplish a lot of things that have been economically challenging," Becker said. "We are not for one second saying that sustainability's not important to us."
The new plan also revealed that developers cut down 2,900 trees instead of the permitted 1,700. The discrepancy means MV Ventures has to plant 1,200 trees.
Becker said the additional tree felling occurred because of plan changes and challenges with grading.
Tom O'Neill, who lives near the training center, said he was "a little surprised they had big equipment coming in, like excavators, taking out 30- to 40-foot trees."
But the Vikings are good neighbors, he and his wife, Mary, said.
Council Member Cyndee Fields said when a developer starts a project, it's typical to remove trees and replant them later.
Fields said she's supportive of the updated Viking Lakes plan. "Basically, it's just been a thrill to watch this develop," she said.
Erin Adler • 612-673-1781