Edina’s Grandview development won’t have office towers, but it will have a woonerf.
The Dutch word, which translates as “living yard,” is a popular concept in Europe, but is less well-known here. It’s a flexible space that can handle multiple forms of transportation: pedestrians, bikes and vehicles. All can coexist at the same time, or the space could be used primarily as a civic plaza with some limited access for autos.
“I believe that all my fellow council members have been pleased with the woonerf concept,” said Council Member Bob Stewart. “We thought it was both innovative and, more importantly, useful to the community. It got a warm reception.”
Office towers did not get a warm reception as the city cut down to the final two proposals for the vacant 3.3-acre site, former home of the city’s public works facility. Two proposals that included offices were axed. The final two concepts under consideration both combine significant public space with residential development, which could be either rentals or condos.
The reason is simple: Residences add more around-the-clock vitality to an area than offices, said Bill Neuendorf, the city’s economic development manager.
“We wanted the lights on after 6 o’clock,” Neuendorf said. “With condos or apartments, you just have more life in the area, combined with the plaza and the public space.”
The two final concepts, which are not fleshed out in detail, call for either 170 or 290 apartment or condo units.
The estimated cost of the smaller development is $73 million to $93 million, and $94 million to $116 million for the larger proposal. The city would pay between 30 percent and 40 percent of the costs, with the rest covered by its private development partner, Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate Group.
Both final concepts include significant public space outdoors and a large indoor space — 50,000 to 60,000 square feet — that could be used for educational, arts or performing events. They also include a small retail component that would most likely be some sort of restaurant, Neuendorf said.
Planning for the Grandview development started more than five years ago and has included multiple rounds of formal input from citizen task forces.
Despite continued opposition from a well-organized citizens’ group that wants the area reserved solely for public use, the City Council appears determined to move ahead with the public-private model.
In several recent public meetings, council members have reiterated their support for the project’s direction.
“In the last several months … the City Council appears to have the greatest focus they’ve ever had,” Neuendorf said.
“I think with this proposal, we’re going to end up with a really impactful public project.”
Not to mention a woonerf.