A developer hopes to turn a parking lot and vacant land in Bloomington's South Loop district into lodging with plans for a new luxury hotel.

Developer JR Hospitality proposed a Hyatt House brand hotel on the northeast corner of E. 86th Street and Old Shakopee Road. The site is just south of the Mall of America and adjacent to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The extended-stay hotel would be four stories and have 148 rooms, according to city documents. Jay Bhakta, managing partner for JR Hospitality, hopes to break ground later this year and open in late 2019.

The Bloomington Planning Commission recommended a rezoning for the hotel in late April, and the City Council is expected to vote on the decision May 21. The planning commission will review the hotel's site plan at its meeting May 28.

Over the years, the South Loop district has steadily expanded to accommodate more lodging and apartments, as well as the growing Mall of America.

Miguel Otárola


County exhibit marks WWI anniversary

An exhibit honoring Americans who served in Tours, France, during World War I is on display at the Hennepin County Government Center until May 30.

"The Americans in Tours: 1917-1919" commemorates the 100th anniversary of the first world war, specifically focusing on Minnesotans (among thousands of other Americans) who served in the Services of Supply and the American Expeditionary Forces.

The exhibit will also showcase a century-long relationship between France and the United States, which sprouted from the U.S. presence there and lives on today through a Sister City program between Tours and Minneapolis. Sister City relationships, according to the website for Sister Cities International, are long-term relationships between two states, recognized by the highest elected official.

The Minneapolis relationship with Tours dates to 1991. The city has 11 other sister cities, including Santiago, Chile; Cuernavaca, Mexico; Eldoret, Kenya; Harbin, China; Ibaraki City, Japan; Kuopio, Finland; Novosibirsk, Russia; Winnipeg, Canada; Uppsala, Sweden; Najaf, Iraq; and Bosaso, Somalia.

The exhibit, which is free to the public, will run Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the Hennepin County Government Center's A-level.



Teens give city 'D+' on tackling climate change

A group of high school students told the Minnetonka City Council last week that the city could be doing a better job in helping mitigate climate change.

The students, members of environmental clubs at Hopkins and Minnetonka high schools, presented a "climate report card" to the council that graded how the city fared in addressing environmental sustainability. Overall, they gave the city a "D-plus."

Students praised Minnetonka for its curbside recycling and organics program, as well as for its efforts in restoring native prairie species. However, they said the city should have a climate action plan and work toward reaching carbon neutrality by 2040.

The two high schools recently partnered through iMatter, a national nonprofit that organizes young people to fight against climate change. Students have also presented the report cards to neighboring cities, including St. Louis Park and Eden Prairie.

"We recognize that the city of Minnetonka has taken some good steps toward sustainability … but we would really like to use this as a springboard for more aggressive action on the issue," Payton Frostad, a student at Minnetonka High School, told the council.

Mayor Brad Wiersum said city staff would review the students' study and contact them in the future.

"We don't like getting a D-plus … but I don't think we're in an A position," Wiersum said. "That would be our aspiration."

Miguel Otárola


Girl Scouts to install exercise equipment

A group of Edina Girl Scouts will be installing exercise stations around Lake Cornelia on May 16 to promote fitness in the community.

The project was created by four Girl Scout Cadettes from Troop 14237 in partnership with the city's Parks and Recreation Department. The Cadettes currently attend Valley View Middle School and have worked on the project for two years, according to troop leader Laurel Fischbach.

The four stations consist of poles and plaques with instructions on how to perform exercises, including jumping jacks and lunges. Hourglass timers and charts show how many calories are burned based on a person's weight and time spent exercising.

"We hope to promote family, fun and health," Alexandra Cheung, a Cadette and eighth-grader at Valley View, said in a video announcing the project.

The four Girl Scouts have been in the same troop since kindergarten and all live near Lake Cornelia, Fischbach said. By installing the fitness stations, they hope to earn their Silver Award, the major award for Cadettes. "They wanted to do something to enhance the exercise experience of the people walking, jogging [and] biking around Lake Cornelia," Fischbach said.

The Cadettes are unveiling the stations on June 9. They will host two parties by the Lake Cornelia fishing pier: one from 9 to 11 a.m. and another from 6 to 8 p.m.

Miguel Otárola

EDen Prairie

Hampton Inn proposed for former IHOP site

The Eden Prairie Planning Commission approved plans last month for a six-story Hampton Inn hotel at the site of a former IHOP restaurant.

The hotel would have 105 rooms and sit next to an Extended Stay America off Technology and Flying Cloud drives. The site is next to a station proposed for the extension of the METRO Green Line.

A Hampton Inn had initially been proposed on the site in 2016, but the cost of underground parking made the project too expensive, according to city documents. The City Council is expected to hear the proposal at its May 15 meeting, according to the city.

Miguel Otarola