In the coming years, the City of Minnetonka will have to tackle many complex issues. Patch asked this year’s City Council and mayoral candidates about how they’d handle some of the major issues facing the district.
Today’s question is:
- What types of development are most important for Minnetonka to attract? What types of development should the city avoid?
There are different types of developments that would need to be considered based on major categories of use (residential, office, commercial, industrial). My comments on each category are as follows:
I feel we currently have a good mix if single family and multi-family residential projects. Some of our single family housing stock is becoming quite dated and may not meet the current or future market needs. As those homes become more difficult to sell, there will most likely be pressure to remodel, tear down or combine a number of lots and re-develop with a different housing type or style. We have very little say over what happens on a remodel, some say on a tear down and rebuild if it involves a need for any type of variance, and a fair amount of discretion on lots that are re-developed. This last category has been discussed fairly heavily at the staff and council level for the last few years in an effort to strike a balance for “maintaining the neighborhood character” (which can be different depending on the perspective of the person defining it) and new type of housing and lot sizes that may appeal more to either older residents that do not want to move into a typical senior housing facility or to younger generations than may not want or need a larger lot or home. Re-development of existing areas tends to create the most concern and in some cases a fair amount of controversy. Review of requests for re-development needed to be carefully considered and fairly weigh the concerns of the neighbors and the market preferences of future residents.
I hope we can attract additional high quality muli-family development in three areas of the city – the Ridgedale area, Opus area and adjacent to the proposed Southwest Light Rail Shady Oak station.
We have been very fortunate to be able to attract major national corporations to locate their headquarters in Minnetonka, including Cargill, Carlson Companies and United Health Group. With the location of a proposed Light Rail station in the Opus area I would anticipate that we would continue to attract office users and the jobs that come with that development.
The city has two primary categories of commercial – regional and neighborhood. The Ridgedale area is obviously our regional commercial area and the council has for several years been working on how to attract business, housing and other amenities to improve the vibrancy and walkability of the Ridgedale area. The fact that Macy’s is making a major reinvestment in upgrading their store in Ridgedale and that Nordstrom’s would open a store in 2015 has aided that effort. The introduction of Nordstrom’s will also result in several new restaurants opening in Ridgedale.
Each of our neighborhood commercial areas has their own unique character. Some are doing quite well others could use some updating and increased amenities. For a number of years we have been working with the business in our neighborhood commercial centers on how to improve each area and increase the vibrancy and attraction of each area, with some success. I see this effort continuing.
We have a limited amount of light industrial that provides quality jobs in our community. There is very limited light industrial guided property available in the city, and with our increasing attraction for office users, it is unlikely that we will attract additional light industrial uses.
I would not be interested in attracting heavy industrial users.
Minnetonka has already attracted development around the new light rail stations and redevelopment around the Ridgedale Mall. Our neighborhood hubs are most vibrant when they reflect the residents’ desire for convenient restaurants and a local drug store, along with a quick source for groceries. Residents support businesses with local ownership/entrepreneurs and they oppose developments that might degrade or pollute the environment. I will carefully scrutinize developments that may use more city services than their tax revenue generates.
At Large Seat A
We should look for developments which fit into the surrounding neighborhood, and avoid developments which clash with the neighborhoods in which they are proposed.
Housing, businesses providing jobs, services such as shops, health clubs, restaurants, churches, schools and areas for recreation are important additions to a city growing in population if the space can be found. New development/re-development needs to fit in with existing construction should be fair, balanced and attractive and non too assuming. The city should avoid construction that is environmentally harmful and ugly buildings such as some big box shopping.
At Large Seat B
Minnetonka is a highly desirable city with much to offer. Because of our excellent services, good schools and convenience to businesses and down town, many young families desire to move here and are seeking homes they can afford. We also have a number of retiring seniors who wish to stay in Minnetonka but would like to downsize or access supportive services. Ensuring that we have an appropriate mix of housing options to meet the changing needs of our residents is important for the future of our city.
Proposed development needs to complement the unique the character of our city, and further the goals identified in the 2030 Comprehensive Guide Plan. I think there are opportunities to learn from the experiences of neighboring cities to see what type of development to avoid, such as the tendency toward larger homes on smaller lots that other communities have seen.
As I responded on day one of the Minnetonka Patch series, many residents do not realize that Minnetonka is primarily residential development. So if Minnetonka needs more money to fund its operation, it is predominately the residential property owner who must step forward and pay an ever increasing tax.
When I ask Minnetonka residents where do they drive to attend a movie or enjoy a restaurant or receive medical care rarely is the answer Minnetonka. I believe we better serve our residents by wisely and carefully expanding our commercial base within Minnetonka. If properly developed, whether it is retail, office or medical facilities, Minnetonka becomes a destination point while retaining its unique character.
I am running because I want to bring a 10 year community development plan that allows us to wisely and carefully expand our commercial tax base and shift Minnetonka’s tax reliance from residential homeowners. I also believe this approach, if done wisely, will offer residents increase convenience and expanded services that are not currently available in Minnetonka. The recent approval of the medical facility along Hwy 7 is one such step.