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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.

Currently in the Grandview area, the building height is limited to six stories. What building height would you be comfortable with and why?

13 Responses

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Joel Stegner, Community volunteer 10 months ago

This is a unique site where the area is much lover than the elevation along Vernon. It does not abut a residential area so the building level can be six stories without towering over the buildings on Vernon. Again the issue is not the number of floors but that the site is developed to have a overall aesthetically pleasing effect.

4 Supports
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Andrea Flom 10 months ago

Totally agree

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Jennifer Hennemuth 10 months ago

I think the factor in Grandview to consider is traffic congestion. I think 6 stories is adequate and adding more creates density that again cannot be supported by infrastructure. Traffic along Gleason/Vernon is backed up every day from 62 as it is. Higher buildings create more density which results in congestion. There is also already congestion on Interlachen and 50th. Those are both major thoroughfares in and out. Add that to traffic congestion from the development to and from 50th and France, and you create a parking lot on that entire strip. To remove or increase building height restrictions is not adequate planning. We need to focus on the big picture in the long term. Grandview is an area that can be reviewed on a case by case basis if a proposal incorporated with the long term and infrastructure makes sense. Let's not change the building height restrictions at this time. That's putting the cart before the horse.

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greta simondet 10 months ago

Six stories or less. Traffic is already an issue around there at certain times of day.

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Paul Nelson admin 10 months ago

As development occurs in this neighborhood, I feel that density is more important than building height. However since this question relates directly to exacting a number for height, I'd suggest that with the uneven topography of the area that other buildings be held to the ultimate (absolute) height of the Jerry's tower. As I don't know the exact elevations of the former PW site, this could relate to a 10 story building on that site.

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Sharon G 9 months ago

Keeping new development at a maximum height of the current Jerry's tower is a great idea. I'd be fine with less than that in order to retain wide vistas / sense of space.

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Bill Owens 10 months ago

4 stories max!

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Bernie Beaver 10 months ago

Traffic management is more important than building height

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John Buttolph 10 months ago

I cannot support any increase in height/density increase in Grandview without corresponding improvements in the circulation element. How does the City propose to manage the traffic congestion in this area - which is already borderline problematic ?

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Jon DeMars Victorsen 9 months ago

How can you embrace a neighborhood name like "Grandview" and restrict the height of the buildings? Parts of this area have a high elevation and such a fantastic view of the Minneapolis skyline!

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KB Montgomery 9 months ago

My concern with the Grandview topic centers on 3 main points:

-Regard (or disregard) for public process/input -Building for live-ability including walk-ability, bike-ability and multi-modality -Retention of small, unique area businesses

Residents collectively spent thousands of volunteer hours to guide future development in the area, thus creating a vision of the kind of neighborhood center in which they would want to live. Here is a brief history of Grandview area planning:

  1. Using consultants, the city has conducted at least 4 public processes (more if you count the Transportation Study and TIF Study conducted by Mike Fischer’s company LHB) costing over $500K.
  2. In 2012, the Council unanimously approved a document called the Grandview District Development Framework (Framework: all pages referenced are from that document).
  3. The Framework emphasized developing the area as a neighborhood center (page 13) with a catalytic public facility on the former public works site (page 25)
  4. Primary emphasis was put on walkability, bike-ability and connectivity of the area (guiding principle #6 and pages 3 and 25)
  5. The former school bus garage site was anticipated as a low-density retail/service/office site fostering better connectivity from the Grandview Square site to and through Jerry’s.
  6. Photos throughout the document displayed attractive low buildings (no more than 4 stories) lining Eden and Arcadia (pages 18, 19, 23, et al)

The recent city council approval of the 6-story, luxury Trammell Crow apartment building on the former school bus garage site ignores the Grandview Framework. One important example is the building’s impact on walkability in the area. Walk and bike-ability are an afterthought with the anticipated TC project. Rather than the promised safe walking zone between the Library/Senior Center/Grandview Square and Jerry’s, the project calls for a striped and signalized cross walk described as dangerous, from the cars making a turn from Vernon to Eden Avenue. Furthermore, patrons of GV Square will have to traverse a sidewalk from along the west side of the new apartment building that, according to one of the Trammell Crow consultants, will dump them into Jerry’s parking lot.

The project required Comprehensive Plan variances for zoning, height and density. I reference this in my 44th and France Speak Up post. When the council gives variances for height and density, they increase the value of the underlying land. That, in turn, makes the land more valuable and incents landowners to sell. When landowners sell, it often has the impact of forcing unique, small businesses out of the neighborhood. In their place come chain stores that draw more traffic and have less unique appeal. Already, a developer has bought the property (the same developer who is developing the Edina Cleaners site). He has doubled the rent of the small businesses thus forcing them to leave the area. The council bears responsibility for forcing small businesses out of the area by incenting land sales and not creating policies to save them.

I often wonder why this council and staff have difficultly both creating and adhering to planning processes that result in inspiring places that we all want to live, work and play. I got a glimpse into the reason when I attended an all day Urban Land Institute “visioning” seminar for Edina city staff and officials (with some citizen guests). Teams were assigned to create the infill development for a fictional town. For context, the Urban Land Institute is made up in large part by area developers and consultants.

We were split into competing teams. Our success was measured on the basis of the developer and city profitability. The developer profitability was focused over a 3- year term. While some attention was given to area assets like green space and affordable housing, there were no metrics measuring the live-ability, walk-ability, bike-ability. There were no points given for attracting and retaining small area businesses. In fact, quite the opposite was true, there were substantial incentives for adding an 80K Square Foot “Q Mart” or a 40K square foot supermarket. There were no incentives for smaller bricks and mortar stores aligned with today’s shopping patterns. There were no incentives for creating attractively designed buildings and public spaces.

Edina’s current development patterns align perfectly with what we experienced in the ULI seminar. It explains, to a great degree, the mediocre, one-off development we are seeing in Edina.

Edina can do better. As Dan Buettner says in his list of the top 25 happiest U.S. cities: “There is a genesis [to developing happy cities]. Enlightened leaders make conscious decisions to favor quality of life over economic development or political expediency.”

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stephanie mullaney 9 months ago

What does there appear to be a NEED for increased density in all of these small area plans? Four stories max. Most people I know want their Edina neighborhoods to stay NEIGHBORHOODS, not commerce and business centers. The traffic in this area is congested at rush hour, and the transportation study the city funded a couple of years back didn't come up with anything to relieve that situation. Make the area more WALKER, BIKING friendly, not attract car traffic and more congestion.

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Sharon G 9 months ago

It is so discouraging when city officials pretend to listen to residents but really don't. Why are they even asking this question if they have already given Trammel Crow permission to go 6 stories in that area. Shouldn't they have done this survey before approving that?

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