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Discussion: Building Heights

As part of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan Update, required by the Metropolitan Council, the City of Edina is reviewing building heights that are listed within the existing commercial districts of the 2008 Comprehensive Plan. The current Comprehensive Plan is clear regarding building height limits within commercial areas. However, City staff has been grappling with development proposals that do not currently fit within the building height parameters of the current Comprehensive Plan. All building height proposals that do not fit within the existing Comprehensive Plan require amendments to the plan and must be reviewed and approved by the Metropolitan Council. Note that the Metropolitan Council does not require height limits, or any indications of height parameters, as part of Comprehensive Plan submission. The City is looking to review how height is handled in the 2018 Comprehensive Plan Update and seeks input from residents.

Topic: 44th & France

Currently in the 44th & France area, the building height is limited to two stories. What building height would you be comfortable with and why?

82 Responses

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Joel Stegner, Community volunteer about 1 month ago

4 stories maximum - this is part of a charming residential neighborhood. Higher than that would be out of proportion. And the code should be specific - specific in terms of floor and height, as floors with high ceilings could cast a bigger shadow. Absolutely no building to the street with narrow sidewalks. Code should also be very specific about walkability and secure bike parking, as it is a neighborhood hub that should encourage auto-free visits.

10 Supports
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greg linhoff about 1 month ago

Linhoff Photo has been at the 44th & France location for over 50 years. Hennipin County has recently raised out property taxes significantly. They are taxing us and other business in the area to the point where we can't survive.
You cant sell enough hamburgers, bagels, pizza or coffee to have a business there. Do the residents want bordered up buildings? It's not 1950 anymore.

3 Supports
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Laurine Ford 20 days ago

This is a tax issue related to development. Residents are feeling it, too, as developers drive property values and residents and businesses alike are being gentrified out of the neighborhood. More development will just aggravate the problem.

0 Supports
 
 
 
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Chip Jones about 1 month ago

This area should stay at 2 stories max. It's a small residential commercial area and I see no reason to add more density to it. More stories than this would only add traffic, congestion and noise... hardly an improvement. There is already wasted space in this area that could be better utilized and improved while maintaining two stories maximum.

31 Supports
 
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Sara Lathrop about 1 month ago

44th and France is a lovely, historic-feeling neighborhood district. Edina should keep and enhance what makes the the area unique - small, neighborhood-oriented businesses. Buildings that reflect the scale of the space and the neighborhood. I am hopeful for creative development that reflects and enhances the neighborhood... not that overhauls it. One- and two-story buildings can be innovative and wildly successful. See 44th/France Wine & Cheese; Penny's in Linden Hills; Caribou; the running store. For buildings that border single family homes, buildings should be no more than two stories or 24 feet, whichever is less. For other buildings, no more than three stories or 36 feet, whichever is less. There should also be graceful transition requirements for height, scale and setbacks from the commercial area to the area with single family homes. Thank you to the City for soliciting the public's views on this important issue! The community feels passionately about this topic and is hoping our voices are heard.

35 Supports
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greg linhoff about 1 month ago

Linhoff Photo has been at the 44th & France location for over 50 years. Hennipin County has recently raised out property taxes significantly. They are taxing us and other business in the area to the point where we can't survive. You cant sell enough hamburgers, bagels, pizza or coffee to have a business there. Do the residents want bordered up buildings? It's not 1950 anymore.

2 Supports
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Heather Wallace about 1 month ago

Frustrating about your taxes. What is your perspective on building height restrictions and how we can maintain the neighborhood?

3 Supports
 
 
 
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Susan Peterson about 1 month ago

I agree with the views expressed by Chip and Sara. Three-story max along France, two-story max along Sunnyside with transitions from single-family homes. Respect the historic, small- neighborhood feel of this area.

22 Supports
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Katharine Winston about 1 month ago

First time on this subject: So many issues regarding this latest "development". As is the intersection of Sunnyside and France is very dangerous for pedestrians - It appears few people have any regard for traffic laws much less people trying to cross France Ave. Up and down France Ave people in cars are creating their own lanes, passing on the shoulder, making illegal turns, not allowing students/pedestrians to cross - and on and on it goes. NOW the City of Edina wants to introduce more traffic BEFORE addressing these life threatening situations. Concerning the HEIGHT of these new, neighbor "enhancing" buildings, I side with those most effected: no higher than 3 stories on France and no higher than 2 stories by residential dwellings. In my opinion, what the City of Edina did at 50th & France has turned that intersection into a shadowed canyon-like feature. The City of Wayzata did the same thing, too, but even worse. Woe be to those citizens living in close proximity to what will be erected at France & "Market" Street.

8 Supports
 
 
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Emily Pfeiffer about 1 month ago

I agree with Sara. Buildings bordering a single family residence should be no taller than 2 stories, especially since there are so many 1.5 story houses that block. Graceful transitions should be incorporated, and the max for closer to France should be 3 stories. Anything taller would be out of character for the corner and would bring a host of traffic and parking issues.

26 Supports
 
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Barbara Norrgard about 1 month ago

I couldn't say it any better than Sara. I agree with her response and especially when she says neighbors feel passionately about this and hope our voices are heard. Thanks for asking us.

22 Supports
 
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Julie Schmidt about 1 month ago

The 44th/France area should maintain building heights of no more than two stories or 24 feet, whichever is less. Taller buildings will take away from the character and charm of this historic neighborhood. There is a petition that collected 329 signatures from residents of this neighborhood asking for height restrictions, among other things, to be included in the plan. Thank you for offering the community an opportunity to weigh in on this. This is a very important issue.

29 Supports
 
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Matt Cramer about 1 month ago

Although not the only factor, height is a significant influence which helps maintain the charm of this unique area. Keeping the current two story/24' restriction would ensure that the walkability and ability to live in such close proximity of the commercial neighbors does not deteriorate with greater density. Additional business development is welcome as come buildings were built with little regards to aesthetics or historic value; however, that business or their buildings should not dominate the space, but rather compliment the area which is surrounding by single family residential. Due to the relative small footprint of this commercial area, a graceful transition between commercial and residential from more than 2 stories is not realistic and should not be allowed.

Thank you for a forum to allow our voices to be heard.

23 Supports
 
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Jennifer Hennemuth about 1 month ago

I concur with the opinions above. Two stories should be the maximum height in the transition zone from commercial to residential, and perhaps some three story allowed on certain France facing parcels. This is a small commercial node and it cannot support high density as traffic and congestion will overflow to the adjacent residential area and negatively impacts the neighborhood. The infrastructure can't adequately support high density or be expanded, nor does it suit the charm and appeal of the area. There must be specific hieight and density limitations to secure the long term interests and benefits of the neighborhood as a whole, both residential and commercial. Removing such specific limitations from the plan will create ongoing conflict of interests and create a precedent for higher density. Lack of foresight and balance will result in inequity and design flaw.

18 Supports
 
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Lou Miranda about 1 month ago

Transportation and density go hand-in-hand. Anywhere a seaport is created, or a navigable river flows, or a train (or light rail) goes, or a highway, ring road, county road, or urban bikeway goes, so goes development. As a county road that can handle a large number of vehicles and has an existing bus system, France Ave. is where it makes sense to have the densest development. No one would advocate tearing down single family homes and building 4-story apartments on a side street like Townes Rd. or Crocker Ave. or Casco Ave. But at 44th & France we already have a 100-year old commercial area that has never seen an increase in density.

To follow the principles of Vision Edina and Living Streets, we want dense, walkable areas (because walkable implies density—you need many destinations to walk to & from). Nobody’s asking for 10-story buildings, but 3-4 stories is a no-brainer, and 5 stories along France is a possibility with the right compromises.

While the houses in that area are mostly older and smaller (and often quite beautiful), there is nothing preventing the owners from selling and new developers tearing down the houses and putting much taller structures there, as has happened in many other parts of Morningside. So while we don’t want the 4 stories of France next to single family homes, 2-3 stories makes perfect sense.

So I think 4 (possibly 5) stories along France is perfectly reasonable. (Everyone thinks Paris is beautiful, walkable, historic, charming, and has great neighborhood character, and virtually all of Paris is 6-story buildings; so 4 or more stories is not unreasonable to be “charming”.)

I think we do need to push developers to have buildings that look good in this neighborhood. We don’t want the buildings to look exactly the same, but there are nice looking brand new buildings that match the neighborhood charm. The photos show the 4-story Oxford Hill building on Grand Ave. in St. Paul, and the stone & brick building with old-fashioned lighting along the facade and setback upper levels meshes beautifully with the 1- and 2-story buildings that surround it (and the single family homes behind it). No, we don’t want 44th & France to look like Southdale or Excelsior & Grand, but St. Paul shows how you can get graceful, dense buildings in a historic neighborhood.

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7 Supports
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Mike Ebnet about 1 month ago

Lou you are a real estate person aren't you? Do you live in this area? Just curious

1 Support
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Siobhan White about 1 month ago

Lou: The buildings in the first attached photo aren't remotely "charming" or Parisian. The second photo, with Creative Kidstuff and Wuollet, is more of what I am thinking. Linden Hills is a perfect example of walkable, charming, and original—doesn't feel like cookie-cutter new development.

7 Supports
 
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Siobhan White about 1 month ago

Unless beautiful, 200-year-old buildings and cobblestone streets are being imported from Paris and placed along France Ave., there is no way this suburb in the middle of MN is going to feel "charming" or historic with new construction. I think what Edina needs is more areas like 50th and France—low, accessible buildings and restaurants with (hidden) parking and wide sidewalks that encourage strolling. The Grand Avenue area of St. Paul has a similar feel. Smaller shops, a "main street" vibe. Main Street in Wayzata is also lovely, save for the hulking "mall" with the Anthropologie. We have so many big box stores and condos and gyms and fast food. What Edina lacks is charm in the commercial areas. (The adorable strip with the Coop, Hello Pizza, and Convention Grill and the 50th and France area are the exceptions.)

3 Supports
 
 
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Matt Cramer about 1 month ago

The difference with France-44 area and the Oxford hill building is that instead of Sprint and The Running Room we have single family residential next to the proposed construction on France-Sunnyside.

Where is our graceful transition as immediate neighbors on Sunnyside?

3 Supports
 
 
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Mike Mankey about 1 month ago

I've been an Edina resident on Sunnyside Road for 22 years and feel it should be limited to two stories on the Sunnyside Road side. If you look down Sunnyside Road you don't see anything that is over two stories. Lets keep it that way!!

25 Supports
 
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Judy Schmidt about 1 month ago

Building height is a critical element in approving any new development in this 44thStreet/Sunnyside Road/France Avenue area. The present code limit at two stories/24 feet provides the natural transition to the single family homes that give Morningside its community feel, desirable location and has helped the entire area maintain house values. Three stories changes everything when you are talking about private homes next door. France Avenue may be able to support three stores because of its designation as a major roadway, but you still have private residential homes next door, so less than desirable. The entire redevelopment can have a major effect on traffic and France Avenue is already congested and this is before the major changes at 50th and France and the Southdale area have been completed. I don’t think anyone thinks change won’t happen. It just needs to be reasonable, within code limits and designed to enhance the livibility of the neighborhood, not detract from it. The development site has already consumed two previous residential lots. I do not see this as progress. We have lived on Sunnyside for 10 years and in the neighborhood for over 40. There is a reason we continue to want to live here and it is not the building of multi story commercial/condo buildings, but the neighborhood and its walkability. We know change will happen but we don’t want change to destroy the livability. I would also comment that this is Morningside and NOT Paris.

22 Supports
 
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greta simondet about 1 month ago

I agree with Sara Lathrop.

11 Supports
 
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Ernest Ashcroft about 1 month ago

I strongly feel that in order to maintain the current character of the area and to limit traffic so that it remains accessible to bycles and pedestrians the maximum height of buildings on France must be three stories or less

10 Supports
 
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Matthew McGivney about 1 month ago

I agree with the local residents of that area. Keep the historic charm of the neighborhood and keep to the current limits.

15 Supports
 
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Mike Ebnet about 1 month ago

Why is density important? It doesn't make Edina more walkable for the people already here.

8 Supports
 
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Mark Greiner about 1 month ago

My view is change is necessary, appropriate, and inevitable. The current location does not present well and is not consistent with the charm of the White Oaks, Morningside and Country Club neighborhoods. That corner is the gateway to all of the neighborhoods, and it can be better. I believe a well done apartment or condo building with some retail will ultimately benefit the area, and I am not opposed to a reasonable 4 story building - I suspect limiting it to two stories will make it economically infeasible and likely result in no development (or just another strip center).

5 Supports
 
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Frank Bennett about 1 month ago

I would like to suggest that the city step back and take a look at the corner of 44th and France in relation to how that corner looks and operates today and how we can enhance the corner for tomorrow. The discussion should not start with the height of development but what does the neighborhood and community need, what would improve and help distinguish the corner of 44th and France and what is appropriate for the space I grew up going to Dennison's Dairy store, morning side hardware and Joyce's bakery and have raised my family in the Neighbirhood for 25 years. We would all agree it is a unique and special Neighbirhood, but I have to say that this particular Corner is a bit if an eyesore today and the traffic does not flow well. It needs some attention and care to get it back in shape. Before getting bogged down on heights, it would be prudent to see what development plans are submitted for debate. Some plans might include aspects to improve the flow of traffic. Others might bring fun dining or cute shops to the Neighbirhood . More importantly, some plans might offer housing alternatives for those of us in the neighborhood who may some day want to downsize but not leave the immediate neighborhood. I'm not sure what the right answer is but I think we would be wise to consider a number of options with a number of different height options. If a building with an extra floor or two would bring certain amenities to the Neighbirhood and possibly some resources to improve traffic, I would like to hear those options rather than preclude them from the debate based on an arbitrary height requirement. Thanks to all for their input

5 Supports
 
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Ryann Doucette about 1 month ago

I think that 4 stories seems appropriate at the border of residential and commercial seems appropriate. We can't expect any developers to build at a 2 story maximum height- meaning we get the cool restaurant and coffee shop on ground level and they are left with one level to build apartments/ condos above. This is not a viable financial model. A certain amount of vertical leaves more surrounding greenspace at ground level for our enjoyment.

6 Supports
 
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Scott Smith about 1 month ago

I believe that 5 stories along France Avenue and 4 stories along Sunnyside & 44th is an adequate limitation on height in the existing commercial node at 44th & France. The new apartment building on France on the east side is 4 stories and not imposing at all. This area currently has several blighted commercial properties and I would really like to see good redevelopment occur in 2018. With the cost of land & construction, it is inconceivable to expect any decent development to occur with limitations of 2 & 3 stories.

6 Supports
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Mark Schmidt 20 days ago

The most recent redevelopments in Edina's 44th and France Small Area, the Gateway Bank building last year, was one story on France (although it looks like three stories from the backyards in White Oaks). So it is not just conceivable, but provable, that decent developments can occur with limitation of 2 & 3 stories - they are happening right now.

0 Supports
 
 
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Robert Wolfe about 1 month ago

Agree with others who feel change will happen. Development will occur. Better to have development that reflects the character of the best buildings on the corner. 1930's brick and mortar vs flat modern or mostly glass / steel structures like the new hair studio on the Minneapolis side. If done well, a four or five story (with recessed top story) building could be an asset to the neighborhood. The plan should allow more stories but, more importantly, assure we gain other enhancements in return. Enhancements like burying power lines, wider sidewalks, brick and mortar construction, green space, better parking options. Win/win. If we resist the development that will be profitable and provide those enhancements, we risk have a 'make a quick buck' developer put a Taco Bell on that corner.

7 Supports
 
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melanie casserly about 1 month ago

This area should stay at 2 stories max. I have small kids that like to bike on the sidewalk and larger buildings goes hand in hand with more traffic..which i am not in favor of. It's already hard to pull out of our driveway sometimes b/c there is a constant traffic flow adding to that will make it more difficult. There is plenty of existing space that could be used better.

10 Supports
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Jenifer Shoemate 27 days ago

If you have kids you have to consider this. The piece that is not being discussed here about our charming neighborhood, is that there are dangerous environmental contaminants beneath the dry cleaner that must be dealt with. If we do not support a multiple story (revenue-generating) development on that Property, the contamination can be ignored. Removing the contaminants beneath a historic gas station and dry cleaner will be costly. To be done correctly a development must be able to recoup costs. What one to two-story building can afford the remediation costs? Maybe a CVS? Not so charming.

0 Supports
 
 
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gerald szykulski about 1 month ago

Being a 10 year resident of Country Club in Edina I think the point that most are missing is that if a 5 story building (I am 100% in favor of) goes up in this location is that cars will get left in the garage or eliminated. This is spot an amazing walkable/bikeable location, grocery stores, entertainment, food, the lakes etc. I see this as a good addition to the area and would consider moving in if it gets built.

7 Supports
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Laurine Ford 20 days ago

Nice theory, but people are going to drive to work. More cars in neighborhood means more cars on the road, including more cut through traffic in Country Club and more traffic jams on France.

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Paul Nelson admin about 1 month ago

Height alone perhaps is not the real question here.

I believe our city is looking for how to shape and mold developers concepts to be attractive and native to the area they are being proposed. With green space and setbacks the sheerness of a buildings appearance can be molded to fit in or be in stark contrast to what the space desires. My feeling is that the two story mid block building (that currently houses Snap Fitness) is much too tall for the area, with it rising two full stories of boring precast panels from the sidewalk to the rooftop complete with a drive thru and parking lot below. This building does not fit the neighborhood and likely should not have been built.

Some of this discussion also goes to timing, as there is demand for quality units to be built on an attractive corner -- now. Next year, things may change and we could be looking at another two story precast panel building to be placed on this corner. The developer is ready to go now, and has proposed a quality building looking to increase the demand to live in this neighborhood as well as bringing up the value of the surrounding real estate (I realize this is a discussion revolving around the small area plan and not specific to one project or one developer, but there is a proposed development waiting in the wings for the outcome of this SAP).

My thought is that this area can support a 4-5 story building, if properly designed for the neighborhood. The point of density is that it creates transportation options for residents as they choose their method of moving about the neighborhood and city. With more density in this and other nodes within the city, other nearby residents will also benefit from the transit options as they develop.

6 Supports
 
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AJ Co about 1 month ago

Building height can be a very good thing for a community. The variables of location, use, design quality, and potential to generate property tax revenue will all vary project to project. Since the Met Council does not require height limitations, I believe we should omit height limitations from the Small Area Plan and instead entrust decision making on height to the project-by-project approvals processes already in place within the City of Edina.

2 Supports
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Gary Bartolett 25 days ago

Removing limitations only leaves developers free to propose anything which leaves residents fighting every development. If you have not noticed the number of controversial projects in the city in the last year (Estelle, 7200 France, Arden Park, Winter Sports Facility at Braemar) you should. We are spending an inordinate amount of time fighting over things that we should not need to fight over. Why? We need to set expectations and follow them.

1 Support
 
 
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Laura Graf about 1 month ago

It seems that the focus of the discussion should be on the nature of a specific project, the measures taken to integrate into the surrounding area and the willingness of the developer to work with the community and take its concerns into account when designing the final product. Simply shutting down a project based on height or other perceived characteristics without really considering the facts and the project's specific attributes seems inappropriate. The area at 44th and France is commercial in nature and would benefit from a well planned and well designed project to replace antiquated buildings and uses. With a well planned project, this area can be an attribute to the adjoining commercial and can exist symbiotically with the residential.

4 Supports
 
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KB Montgomery about 1 month ago

I agree with Sara Lathrop and those who have voiced support for her position.

In addition, I have two primary concerns regarding development at 44th and France. The first is maintaining the small businesses that serve the city today. When the city grants variances to developers for height and density, they raise the value of the land. When the value of the underlying land increases it gives incentives to area landowners to sell their property to the highest bidder thus forcing the small businesses out of the area. This is not conjecture. It is already happening in the GrandView area. Allowing 4 stories at 44th and France will create a domino effect of land sales in the area. The unique locally owned businesses that we love and use will go away and be replaced by the generic housing and chain stores that typically go hand in hand.

In a review of the book “Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul, author Jeremiah Moss is paraphrased saying: “Today we have ’hypergentrification’ the complicity between municipal government and big private money to reconfigure whole sections of the city, with dubious consequences, chief among them the ceding of space, goods and social currency”. The result is the loss of the city’s soul. I would argue that Edina is losing its soul to generic gentrification.

My second concern is one of proper process. The city council intends to urbanize Edina through added height and density. Its urbanization quest focuses primarily on housing and not the other amenities that make city living attractive. The majority of citizens desire height and density that transition to and fit in with neighborhoods. The council does not agree. The result is botched processes in which residents provide their input, the council ignores or cherry picks the input it likes and creates a report/document/Small Area Plan that is deliberately vague. If the report is specific and prescriptive in ways that the council does not like, the plan tends to get shelved and ignored.

Watch for the 44th and France SAP to avoid specifics with respect to height and density or to incorporate more height and density than is supported by the majority of the neighborhood. Perhaps the working group will say that it has not been given enough time in order to reach that level of specificity. The city council knew in 2009 when it approved the last Comprehensive Plan that 44th and France had been identified as a potential area of change. There is no reason that the 44th and France SAP planning process should have been condensed into a few months at the end of 2017.

This is not NIMBY –ism. It is quite the opposite--planning around the concept of community. There are many great models throughout the country. Edina is following none of them in its “one off” development model. As a result we are getting a patchwork of mediocre (at best) development that does nothing to foster live-ability, walk-ability and connectively. It is time for the council to apply the brakes, study best practices elsewhere and follow a better model for planning and development in Edina.

13 Supports
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Sharon G 25 days ago

Kudos to you for bringing this discussion to the heart and soul of what a vital engaged neighborhood requires. Edina talks a lot about economic and social diversity but, by continuing to solicit development and build on the hi-end the decision is to limit diversity.

1 Support
 
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J Lonnquist about 1 month ago

Well-said here -- these insights resonate with what happened during the Market Street approval process. I believe height restrictions are essential and smart development can and should happen with them firmly in place. Obviously height restrictions limit the city's tax revenue and the developer's profits, but that is fine if we aren't asking the developer to solve green-space or parking issues in the surrounding area. I'll bet some fantastic apartments can be added on the large Edina Cleaners lot that top-out at three rather than five stories, with two stories abutting the Sunnyside homes. We don't need to jump at the first proposal and fear that is the only option.

One issue I'd like clarity on in this discussion: does the City of Edina have the capacity to make traffic-flow improvements on France Avenue and 44th Street (e.g. green turn arrows, new lane markings, street parking adjustments) or are these Hennepin County decisions? If improved capacity and flow on these two roads are beyond Edina City Council's control, we should know that and discuss added density accordingly. Thanks to anyone who can clarify.

8 Supports
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Siobhan White about 1 month ago

Well said. As someone who moved to a charming Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn (with 4 handmade cheese shops and 5 bakeries within 2 blocks), I saw first-hand what unbridled growth and gentrification did. Our rent doubled; all the mom & pop stores closed, and we were left with huge banks/ATMs on every corner. And many storefronts are empty, as landlords got greedy and kept raising the rent (J Crew took over the space of an 80-year-old pizzeria, for example). And then even J Crew couldn't afford the rent! Eventually, people don't want to live in an area that loses its charm, and you end up with ugly, poorly-planned buildings and parking lots (like that awful Jareds eyesore and the new cookie-cutter condos on York).

7 Supports
 
 
 
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Mark Ehling about 1 month ago

I instantly fell in love with Morningside four years ago because of its unique character and charm. It felt then, and still feels, like a quiet, tree-lined village tucked away into the city. A person can walk the sidewalks here and still feel a sense of history. The 44th and France intersection is a prominent gateway to this neighborhood, and because of this, the intersection (and whatever we make of it) becomes a kind of ambassador for the neighborhood itself, and an embodiment of what we want the neighborhood to be. I believe we have the obligation to preserve the warmth, charm, and historical feel of Morningside. For that reason, I am in favor of: limiting building heights to two stories for those that border single-family homes; limiting building heights to 3 stories for strictly commercial areas; and requiring graceful transitions from commercial to residential areas. Thank you for allowing our voices to be heard!

13 Supports
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Jenifer Shoemate 27 days ago

The piece that is not being discussed here about our charming neighborhood, is that there are dangerous environmental contaminants beneath the dry cleaner that must be dealt with. If we do not support a multiple story (revenue-generating) development on that Property, the contamination can be ignored. Removing the contaminants beneath a historic gas station and dry cleaner will be costly. To be done correctly a development must be able to recoup costs. What one to two-story building can afford the remediation costs? Maybe a CVS? Not so charming.

0 Supports
 
 
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Kerry Spencer about 1 month ago

I agree with Sara and the others regarding keeping the 2 story/24' restrictions. I do also feel structures facing France and not Sunnyside could be acceptable at 3 or maybe 4 stories. I have been a resident for over 55 years and remember the convenience of Dennison's Dairy Store, Joyce's Bakery, Morningside Hardware, Carlson's Odd shop, The corner drugstore and the library that was in the current Edina Cleaners building which also housed a hairdressing shop and Westgate Theater. We still have a lot of the walkability in the neighborhood in addition to all the kids riding bikes and joggers. It is great to see all of that activity on the streets and sidewalks. If residences are to be built on the cleaners site, I would prefer to see 2 story townhomes that could be condos so they would be owned vs rented. If a large building is erected, I would certainly prefer to see some character built in vs the "box" look. I would also prefer to see access to a building be from France Ave vs the proposal we saw using Sunnyside for ingress and egress. The fact that well over 300 signatures have been submitted with the petition certainly provides evidence that the citizens are concerned about development.

6 Supports
 
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Chris Dall about 1 month ago

I agree that there should be building height limits in the 44th and France Small area, with a preference for 3 stories on France Avenue and 2 stories for buildings bordering residential homes. I'm not opposed to change or to increasing density, and I do believe that well-planned, thoughtful development can benefit the neighborhood while maintaining its charm. But I also think that without some kind of limitation on building heights, we could end up with projects that are really ill-suited to this intersection and this neighborhood.

9 Supports
 
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Bill Owens about 1 month ago

4 stories max!

0 Supports
 
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Mark Valgemae about 1 month ago

I also support 3 stories on France and 2 stories in the transitional areas, for the reasons that have already been explained well. I am a 27 year resident of Morningside.

9 Supports
 
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Mary Swendsen about 1 month ago

3 stories on France would blend with the surrounding areas.

4 Supports
 
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Frank Cerra about 1 month ago

I prefer 2 stories but could live with up to 4. Please preserve the neighborhood pleasantness and friendliness and demeaned. More height creates unpleasant views and walking in increases the already overbearing traffic created by th 50th and France development.

Frank

4 Supports
 
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John Buttolph about 1 month ago

Once a maximum height limit is approved, it will never be lowered. Apart from increased tax revenues and developer profit-motive, is there a compelling reason to increase building heights beyond the current limit ? Will increased building height limits beyond 2 stories enhance the quality of life ? Strengthen the coherence of the local community ? Reduce traffic and parking congestion ? Probably not. The residential neighborhood currently transitions gracefully and naturally from one side of France to the other. I do not support increasing heights along 44th between France and Xerxes. At the corner of 44th and France. a three-story height would be alright, but I don't see any reason that persuades me that the benefits outweigh the detriment.

6 Supports
 
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rachid ettouhami about 1 month ago

Traffic and congestion is already happening especially around rush hours. Adding more stories and height will make it even worse. It is hard to pull out of our driveway sometimes b/c there is a constant traffic. Keep the historic charm of the neighborhood and keep to the current limits.

7 Supports
 
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Heather Wallace about 1 month ago

Residences are next door to the commercial buildings on Sunnyside Ave. The area is a small charming commercial district. Keeping height restrictions to 3 stories can maintain the district. The city should work with existing business owners and residents to facilitate parking or traffic improvements as needed and requested. Allow business and development interests to work within the constraints of building codes (3 stories) for the neighborhood to develop naturally within a free market system, constrained by codes and restrictions which are put in place by the government at the request of the citizens in order to protect property values and maintain current density. The government restrictions should reflect the desires of the citizens, not the developers.

3 Supports
 
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Lauren Warner about 1 month ago

The charm will remain. Having more more stories (let's go with 4) brings more people. More people means more patrons of surroundings businesses and everyone wins. Limiting stories because of "charm"'doesn't make sense to me. Seems like it's about growing our community and growing revenues for local businesses in the area.

5 Supports
 
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Bryan Badzin about 1 month ago

Five stories seems to be a reasonable limit IF the building fits the neighborhood in all the other ways mentioned in the many comments above, which I will not repeat here. There are already other buildings that are more than three stories near the area i.e. Mill Valley Kitchen (5), and Linden 43 (4), and in my opinion, are not eye-sores as they are done in a way that "fits the neighborhood". Finally, having more people living in the neighborhood helps the businesses that are there already which we shouldn't take for granted.

7 Supports
 
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jason VOGT about 1 month ago

This should not be an argument about building height. It should be a discussion of what the building provides for the community and this is clearly a high quality project Building a high quality development often needs more than two stories. Commerce is a vital part for the growth of our neighborhoods/communities and putting unnecessary restrictions will discourage necessary development.

4 Supports
 
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Jenifer Shoemate about 1 month ago

Four to five-stories is a reasonable goal for updating this corner. The developer has cooperated with the dry-cleaner owner/seller by discussing community goals. (Wouldn't it be great if that was done more often, especially with the new houses going up in Morningside!) France Avenue and Sunnyside is a bustling corner and it seems that better controlled intersections in that area would be one benefit of this new development. The new structure on the Minneapolis side, to the south, doesn't look out of place at all and has not likely decreased that SW Mpls neighborhood's appeal in any way.

This dry-cleaner is an eyesore and an environmental risk that this developer would be taking out of the neighborhood. I doubt a two-story building could generate the revenue necessary to clean up the soil beneath its footprint. By removing the soil, putting in underground parking and retail on the first level, contaminated air risk is essentially eliminated. Imagine the reverse, taking down a modern four-story residential building, with yoga studios and brew pubs that the neighbors enjoy...for a one-story, falling apart, contaminated dry-cleaning facility.

Also, maybe future empty-nesters wouldn't have to leave Morningside when we are ready to downsize. At the rate the little tear-downs are happening, what two-bedrooms will be available in this area? Sounds like Morningside would win by modernizing this corner in this way.

4 Supports
 
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kerry kirvida about 1 month ago

Four to five stories seems reasonable in this busy, commercial area. The discussion should be less about height and more focus on how the project comes to life on the street level and how it will create vibrant street life and serve the neighbors. This project will add considerable value at the street level, regardless of height (3.4.5 stores...).

5 Supports
 
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Christine Lund about 1 month ago

Let’s keep Edina moving forward!

As a life long Edina resident, and someone who currently resides on Sunnyside Road, I believe four stories is a very reasonable height for the proposed project in our neighborhood. The Edina Cleaners site has been a complete eye sore my entire life. This redevelopment, will totally reshape the neighborhood and the entry to the beautiful Morningside and Country Club neighborhoods.

I grew up in Edina and in a family where my father is a developer. He has built many projects that have become home to many Edina residents as they transition from their home to a condo or apartment. I know firsthand how important quality urban projects have been to people. Without quality urban places to move to, residents become trapped in their homes. And so many people love our neighborhoods of Edina and don’t want to leave. For example, a person who has lived for years in Country Club or Morningside neighborhoods don’t necessarily want to move Southdale or a surrounding suburb. They love it here. Why would we want them to leave our community? Let’s provide homes where they can transition and still be close to their family, grandchildren, parks, shopping, etc.

As a young professional I also know we want quality apartments close to the lakes, restaurants we frequent, 50th and France, etc. My friends and I don’t want to live in a non-descript remote suburban location that requires lots of driving. We want to stay close to everything without the hassle of driving long-distances. I know I would live at this project in a heart beat.

The developer has also worked with dozens of people from our neighborhood to modify the size and design of this project. He is going into this not tone-deaf and is taking into consideration other people's opinions and values.

Please continue to support high density development in Edina as you have in other areas of Edina.

If built, the success of this project will speak for itself. Full of Edina residents who love our community and want to be close to everything including their family.

Please support this project.

Thank you! Christine Lund

7 Supports
 
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Brian Pankratz about 1 month ago

Height should be placed along major corridors like France Ave to take advantage of existing infrastructure. The proposed redevelopment will improve the existing area by bringing new amenities to the neighborhood and Edina.

4 Supports
 
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Siobhan White about 1 month ago

I agree it should remain two stories. This is part of a charming residential neighborhood. Higher than that would be out of proportion. And as others have said, the code should be specific in terms of floor and height, as floors with high ceilings could cast a bigger shadow.

5 Supports
 
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Sara Kaufman Sara Kaufman about 1 month ago

Four stories along N/S street, France, and 2 stories on E/W streets. France is a commercial Blvd. andI love that. I live in Edina because I can walk to amenities and would love even more businesses and services that I can walk to. I also like that taller building on France serve as a noise barrier to the homes behind it.

Keep in line with residentual building codes on E/W cross streets.

This can all be done very tastefully, with big, beautiful sidewalks, and generating lots of tax money to add more schools.

0 Supports
 
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Jeff Shoemate about 1 month ago

3 to 4 stories on France seems reasonable and more sustainable than 2 stories. The area will be MORE charming with redevelopment.....take a good objective look next time you drive through....Scott Smith's comments above are right on, several blighted properties and wasted space. Redevelopments made so far have been positive (remember the liquor store before the new, modernized building?). Economically, it seems that less height (fewer units) works against both a quality build and sustainability. Fewer units would require higher rents, putting pressure on affordability and the likelihood of keeping local businesses.

4 Supports
 
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Chari Porter about 1 month ago

My vote is for a height restriction of 2-3 stories at the Edina Cleaners site. This property is directly adjacent to residential single story homes. I feel that a structure taller than 2-3 stories would be too severe of a transition from commercial to residential. A taller building would restrict sunlight for the residences next to the commercial property, and also lower their property values. This is a residential area first and foremost with a commercial district, NOT a commercial district with a few residences. I have no issues with the site being redeveloped, but please keep in mind the historical nature of the area and allow for a graceful transition from commercial to residential. Again, I strongly support a height limit on this site to 2-3 stories.

4 Supports
 
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Kathy Reilly about 1 month ago

Agree with many of the responses advocating for 1-2 stories max! Morningside is a quaint & historic part of Edina with thriving neighborhood businesses. Let's do all we can to preserve that!

6 Supports
 
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D Feldman about 1 month ago

I believe the charming character of Morningside, White Oaks, and Country Club increases the desire of people to move into our area. We do NOT need to become 50th & France. We benefit from upgrading our 1.5 and 2 story homes and keeping the scale we have, perhaps increasing the numbers of bungalows as a transition. We do not need additional traffic on our residential streets when we have no additional parking available.

5 Supports
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Jenifer Shoemate 27 days ago

The piece that is not being discussed here about our charming neighborhood, is that there are dangerous environmental contaminants beneath the dry cleaner that must be dealt with. If we do not support a multiple story (revenue-generating) development on that Property, the contamination can be ignored. Removing the contaminants beneath a historic gas station and dry cleaner will be costly. To be done correctly a development must be able to recoup costs. What one to two-story building can afford the remediation costs? Maybe a CVS? Not so charming.

1 Support
 
 
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Alex Gaustad about 1 month ago

The height for this project that I feel is a comfortable height for this area would be 4-5 stories. This will be a good redevelopment project for the neighborhood. As a resident of this area that lives across the street from the project location, I know that this would only improve and re-shape the community and the area as a whole in a positive way. This project will continue to bring new opportunities to this area which I feel as though we want to see as being part of this community. There are buildings in very close proximity of where this project will take place that allows buildings at this height. I feel as though we should be doing the same in our community, to keep the current residents here and allow living options for them when that time comes and attract new residents that want to join our community and be a part of Edina!

Let's continue to re-shape and re-develop Edina for the better! This is a project that is only going to help the community not hurt it! Keep the support going!

Thank You! Alex Gaustad

6 Supports
 
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David Daly about 1 month ago

If density is what is economically necessary to redevelop the current Edina Cleaners site I'm in support of it. I think the City should be implementing a plan with "flexible" height requirements. We should be looking at this on a project-by-project basis with city officials and community input. I'll take the trade-off of 5 stories here for a cleaned-up corner so long as its well developed and the project can we an amenity to the area and built with material/architecture that fits with the fabric of the neighborhood.

2 Supports
 
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Greg Daggett about 1 month ago

I look to cities larger than Minneapolis like Chicago and then at what They have done well with neighborhoods adjacent to the city. With time, density will increase. People will not call Albert Lea a suburb and drive 90 minutes into work. With that said, we have a responsibility to be mindful of existing property, livelihood, etc. You can look to the Lincoln Park neighborhood and Lincoln Drive as to what France Ave. will someday look like as it runs out of the city. I support 4+ stories along France with a mindful transition to lower stories as we approach neighborhood lots. Green space should be a focus. Commercial/retail at ground level a must. Residential parking at 1-2x stalls:units should be included.

2 Supports
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Thomas Hoegh 23 days ago

Greg, are you citing Chicago as an example to emulate and support high density housing??? I think you just made the best argument against it.

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Ted Warner 28 days ago

I support this area at 4+ stories. My family and I drive brought here to linden hills every weekend and that area has continued to grow (up) and modernize while maintaining its neighborhood feel and charm and. It affecting local residents negatively. The 44th corner is already modernizing, why not make it A bit more like 50th? There are already plenty of great restaurants, a 4 story building would help create staying power.The border of Edina and Minneapolis staying at 2 stories seems old fashioned. This won’t turn the area into a zoo. Look at linden hills.

1 Support
 
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Matthew McGivney 25 days ago

This is a great neighborhood and has a lot going for it in terms of charm. Do not destroy it with tall buildings. Keep it to 4 stories max along the major roadways.

1 Support
 
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Kathy Robison 25 days ago

I would prefer a limit of two stories. I don't disagree with adding shops, but would like to see the charm of the area remain intact. 50th and France (by comparison) has spread; it's become a shopping center and has seen significantly increased traffic congestion. It would be a shame to see that happen to 44th and France. Once we start adding 4+ story buildings, we start the "progress" toward that end.

2 Supports
 
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Sharon G 25 days ago

Paul Nelson (Admin) "The developer is ready to go now, and has proposed a quality building looking to increase the demand to live in this neighborhood as well as bringing up the value of the surrounding real estate (I realize .. but there is a proposed development waiting in the wings". Tell them we'll get back to them when WE are ready, and when we get more than one proposal to review that are based on neighborhood preservation and not just return on the dollar.

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Sharon G 25 days ago

France Ave at 50th St. looks and feels like a canyon. I would like to see France at 44th limited to 3 stories with top 2 floors situated back from the front of the building. Widen sidewalks by moving new buildings back from the street. Any development that includes housing should require 2 parking spaces per unit in underground parking. Also parking for bicycles.

1 Support
 
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Thomas Hoegh 23 days ago

Look at the area around Excelsior & Grand: Many, many hundreds of apartments, only a few eateries aside from several fast food chains. Now look at 44th & France: Very few apartments, several eateries (no fast food chains). High density housing clearly doesn't create vitality. I actually like E&G, but I love living in Morningside because of the way it is. 2 stories max. Maybe a 3-story variance for an exceptional project on France.

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Jon DeMars Victorsen 22 days ago

Twenty-five years ago, we lived on France and 46th for 10 years with young children. Although we enjoyed the ability to walk to the stores, we had to keep a tight grip on our kids, because of unpredictable cars/drivers. We decided to move after a car passed between the open bus door and the curb where my son was stepping off.
It's taken time, but there are now sidewalks, thank you.
With a good architect, 44th and France, can take a six story building.

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Mark Schmidt 20 days ago

The zoning should not change and should stay at 2 stories. People have a right to rely on the zoning laws when they buy their homes and make investments, financially and emotionally, in their neighborhoods. To blow up the zoning laws and dramatically increase heights in an area zoned 2 stories would be a slap in the face to those that chose to buy their homes nearby. I left the greater urbanization of Chicago and chose Morningside near 44th and France precisely because of its smaller footprint and true neighborhood feel. 44th and France has shops that serve neighbors in their daily needs - blowing up height limits would inevitably goose the economics of the small area and turn our neighborhood into another high-brow area like 50th and France, which increasingly caters to destination luxury shoppers instead of neighbors -- that would destroy a great, unique and true "neighborhood" and there would be no going back. Also, some people advocating height may be unaware that the 44th and France "Small Area" sits at the top of a hill -- at the bottom of that hill, directly abutting the 44th and France Small Area, is the White Oaks neighborhood. From the White Oaks neighborhood, the existing 2 stories buildings already loom like 4 story buildings and the existing 1 story buildings like 3 story buildings. From that vantage point, adding a single story to the 44th and France Small Area is actually like adding 3 additional stories. From the perspective of White Oaks, looking up at the Small Area, a 4 story building would look like a 6 story building, a 5 story building would look like a 7 story building. That ignored vantage point underscores why it is indeed so important to have height limitations and keep them. Without the height limits, projects that just don't make sense in proportion to the neighborhood have a much higher likelihood of getting built, to the detriment of neighbors that bought their houses next to this historically two story area that is zoned for two stories.

1 Support
 
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Laurine Ford 20 days ago

With height comes traffic. Short time traffic for shops (with more parking on the streets, regardless of how many official lots or ramps are provided). Long time traffic for residents. France already has traffic jams during rush hour. More development will make them worse. 44th is already a problem to get onto at certain times of day. Sunnyside will bear the brunt of this development, but we will all feel it.

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stephanie mullaney 20 days ago

Keep the charm of the area. 4 stories for buildings at the most. Also consider what this does to the CURRENT businesses in the area.

0 Supports