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 Southdale area, the building height is limited between four and 12 stories. What building height would you be comfortable with and why?

38 Responses

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Joel Stegner, Community volunteer about 1 month ago

I previously serve on the Southdale planning group representing a small neighborhood of high density housing nest to the Southdale Medical Distict. A single road - Barrie - which turns into Heritage Drive - serves the area. We have the heaviest traffic of any street in Edina without sidewalks, dangerous as parking is heavy on both sides of the road and the road has many curves and driveways. Having building heights that high for all parts of the Southdale district is crazy. Our reisudential already has the Edina Towers and more high rises could be created only by tearing down existing owner occupied properties, displacing long term residents and young people attracted to affordable housing and express buses to downtown jobs. For the Southdale area, building heights should vary through the district - higher in commercial areas, lower elsewhere. In our part of the area, anything over 3-4 stories will transform our community, not for the better. Until the city is ready to create better access, we cannot handle higher volumes.

8 Supports
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Teri Ellis at October 10, 2017 at 8:39am CDT

I agree that the building heights in this area must be staggered downward toward residential homes. The height of buildings towering- where you feel residents of these high rise buildings can over look into your homes, is not something those in residential homes would not appreciate or want. This will depreciate the residential homes value, and the value of our neighborhoods. These areas must be protected!!

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Kristin Reichling 25 days ago

Is there information regarding the effects of increased building height (density) on traffic, walkability, existing real estate usage, affordable housing, etc.? It's hard to comment on height preferences without knowing the effects of any changes. In the absence of this information, I would not support any changes to current height limits anywhere in Edina, unless they're adjusted downward. Broadly speaking, developers should present proposals consistent with our Comprehensive Plan. We shouldn't be grappling with misaligned proposals.

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Jennifer Hennemuth 25 days ago

The guidelines in the existing comp plan should remain the same throughout the Southdale area. There is ample opportunity for development and leeway for building height within the existing plan. There must be specified restrictions to maintain buffer and transition zones from the commercial to residential neighborhoods. In addition, with the wide spread high density development already in play across the area, the infrastructure cannot support the traffic and congestion that will occur as a result of allowing higher density than what is already prescribed by the plan.

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Kaylin Eidsness admin 24 days ago

[Comment from Shirley Rerat] Why have a Planning Commission if developers can come in and just decide what they want? Either put building on hold until the Southdale area planning group can get a plan in place or just let people come in and do what they want to do.

They work so hard getting these plans in place, and the builders come in and they just change it.

Do it one way or the other. None of this makes any sense.

Hopefully people will think about this in all areas because this isn’t all about the Southdale area.

8 Supports
 
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Matthew McGivney 24 days ago

We recently purchased a house in the Southdale area based on current comp plan limits and current zoning. We did this because we like the neighborhood, the neighbors, and the peace and quiet. Why is the city working to destroy this with extremely tall buildings, additional density and an abandonment of the comp plan? Keep to current comp plan limits and current zoning. Its a must.

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Bruce McCarthy 23 days ago

Current height limits are appropriate but even more important than height is having a transition zone from single family homes to multi-story buildings. Without this principle in our comp plan we will get crazy things like 26 story buildings across the street from single family residences as proposed in the Estelle project. Multi-story buildings, especially high-rises, should be clustered together in the center of the Southdale area, not in a ring around Southdale.

11 Supports
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Joe Corbett at October 16, 2017 at 11:14am CDT

I agree, Bruce. The newer hotels adjacent to MOA could serve as an example.

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Alan Solyntjes 23 days ago

We have a comp plan and building codes in place. Amendments to the comp plan are currently under review. Deviating from this plan in any significant way suggests we don't have a plan. This sets a precedent for development in all parts of Edina. We should all be concerned about this and tell the Planning Commission and the City Council to abide by their agreement with residents as outlined in our plans.

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Laura Lehmann 22 days ago

I agree with those who have questioned the point of having a comprehensive plan if it is not being followed. If the rule is 4-12 stories, have a buffer between residential housing and commercial buildings, and transition from 4 stories on the periphery to 12 stories more centrally. And having lived here for over 25 years, there is no doubt in my mind that the traffic congestion has steadily worsened. Adding more local traffic to the thousands of cars that cut through (especially from Hwy 100 going east) will only worsen the situation.

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Mike Ebnet 22 days ago

Questions I would like to see the city answer before changing heights: What is your population goal and why? How will more people help the city? What are your plans for increasing infrastructure? How many extra firemen will be required? What kind of firefighting equipment will be needed to handle taller buildings? What is the plan for increased transportation needs? Will we need to drill more wells for water? I agree with Laura and others questioning the point of a comprehensive plan (and zoning) if you are not going to follow them.

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Rachel Mondry 21 days ago

I completely agree with this.... what is the city's population goal and why?

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Marybeth Nelson 17 days ago

We have owned a home in the Centennial Lakes Village homes for 13 years. What a change adding over 1,200 apartment units to our area has made to traffic on France and York and therefore our quality of life. I walk the blinking light pedestrian crosswalk at Parkview and York regularly. At least a 5th of the time, cars do not stop/yield to pedestrians. We would not be in favor of increasing building heights and are really hoping the City of Edina will put a moratorium on any development that is going to increase density in our area. Thanks for providing this forum.

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Leo Sioris 16 days ago

We have lived in the area since 1981. The area has become much less like the neighborhood it once was. We have enjoyed living in Edina for most all of those years, however, decisions that have been made by our planning commisions and council have made this a much less desirable neighborhood and suburb to live in. Decisions are being made for the benefit of those not living here. Building heights matter greatly. My understanding is that a comprehensive plan was put in place with neighborhood input already. Buildings along France ave should be kept in the 4-6 story range depending on where on France they are built. The traffic on France, despite what your consultants and engineers say, is not good at all. Our neighborhoods do not need more density surrounding them. Traffic is already finding its way into our neighborhoods to avoid our busy main streets. Taller buildings do not fit our environments and look ridiculous. They belong downtown, not in a neighborly suburb. Please respect the plan that has already been adopted and make decisions to make our neighborhoods better and enhance their livability. We do not need any further decrements in our living standards.

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Bill Owens 16 days ago

12 stories max!

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Beth Choukalas 16 days ago

Why does the city have a comprehensive plan, when it is not enforced? We did not move here to be surrounded by skyscrapers. Traffic on France Ave now is horrible and will get even worse between 62 and 494 with the proposed skyscrapers. Does the mayor or any of the council people who favor these projects live in the immediate neighborhood?

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Jerry Hobbs 15 days ago

The injection of an affordable housing component to the Estelle project simply muddies the water and in no way addresses the issue of Estelle's height, which appears to be a dominant concern of many of us opposed to it. An amendment tailored to raise the building height limit from 48 feet to 360 feet to benefit a particular project will nullify the concept of a transitional zone and will not pass the smell test. Let the current limitation stand.

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Mary Swendsen 15 days ago

It would be great if new buildings in the Southdale Area could match the height of Point of France. The charm of Edina is the neighborhood feel that it has. High rise buildings would give it a completely different feel. A lot of work has gone into the Centennial Lakes development, and it has significantly enhanced our community. Hopefully, that same "future vision" will guide the development of the Southdale area, and protect what Edina has worked so hard to build.

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RICHARD A MINER 15 days ago

The Centennial Lakes development is very appealing. I fear an influx of high-rises will turn a beautiful open area into a "path through a forest" of too-tall buildings which block the view of the sky. I don't want this to become "a downtown area." Please respect the plan that has already been adopted.

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Joann Russell 15 days ago

The existing comprehensive plan can protect the single family homes in the area while still allowing for inevitable development. Deviating from this plan to create two towers around 350' tall (taller than the water tower and the Westin) within a few hundred feet from the nearest single family home is completely incomprehensible.

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Teri Ellis at October 10, 2017 at 10:28am CDT

My husband and I are both nearly life long East Edina residents. The density of Southdale area is becoming a great concern of ours. We both understand that development is essential. That being said, there does not appear to us to be any serious considerations of France Ave traffic impeding into all of the surrounding neighborhoods. The France Ave, Crosstown intersection has not had a traffic upgrade in so long, we can not remember. I believe it was nearly the same when we were graduating from EHS in the 70's!! That does not make sense, with all of the medical development AND high rise residential buildings that have been going up. For those of us in surrounding areas, the noise bouncing off of said high rise buildings into the neighborhood, and the horribly increased traffic are both negatives that we have NOT heard addressed by the city. it appears to be all about the increased revenue of Southdale buildings. What about any decrease in value to neighborhoods, adjoining the Southdale area because of said noise and traffic!!! Let's also address infrastructure and long range planning. In the last several years, traffic going south bound on France Avenue are OFTEN backed up to at least W. 62nd St, and many times as I'm driving northbound on France, the south bound is past 60th ST. We keep adding high density, but there has been very little change in addressing traffic into and out of the area. Crosstown is backed up at all times of the day. We're at a point where we feel there needs to be a stop to any more added density, until the studies on impact to existing neighborhoods, infrastructure, and traffic issues- are seriously addressed!!

9 Supports
 
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Marena Arbelia at October 12, 2017 at 2:27pm CDT

I have only lived in Edina for about 4 years. But in that time I cannot believe the amount of new building that has gone on. Don't get me wrong, updating and refreshing and welcoming new residents and businesses into our area is good. But there is a good way and a not so good way to achieve this. When I lived in Minneapolis many years ago everyone knew that Edina was careful and strict about what kind of building would be allowed to be built there so as not to change the general feeling of the suburb.However, now it seems rules are broken all the time...if developers have the money...they're in!! If Edina city planners continue on their way of thinking we will be living in another downtown Minneapolis. We will be surrounded by high-density skyscrapers...more traffic, which is already obnoxious...more pollution...more crime..more noise...more more more of things most of us DO NOT want. Do the planners actually live in or near these areas. So many other people ahead of me have voiced the same exact concerns. Please listen to us...otherwise what is the point of asking us what we think if you are going to just do what you want to anyway. Is Edina really that greedy that it's all about money? I thought it was about quality of life for everyone...living, working and shopping here. I walk everywhere and I do not want to be frightened with increased problems.

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Gary Thacher at October 16, 2017 at 6:34am CDT

I have been an homeowner on Southdale Road since 1981. Responsible development has taken place over that time that has maintained the integrity of our environment. I am opposed to the variance being considered for the Estelle project due to; height, density issue. It is in direct violation of the 2008 Edina Comprehensive plan.

8 Supports
 
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Sara Amaden at October 16, 2017 at 7:23am CDT

When new building was first being considered in the Southdale area, particularly along York Avenue, I attended city council meetings and asked what effect thousands of new housing units would have on traffic. The answer I got was that our roads "could handle it." That was not a very satisfactory answer since spending 10 minutes driving from 76th to the Crosstown is "handling it" but is a miserable experience. The comp plan is irrelevant; the city council simply grants variances to anyone who asks. Also, why are my property taxes going up when all this building is increasing our tax base by huge amounts?

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Patty Evans at October 16, 2017 at 9:47am CDT

We have been Cornelia area home owners for 27 years. We strongly feel the city needs to stay with the current comprehensive plan of not allowing buildings to be built over 48 feet/ four stories tall and more than 30 units per acre. Buildings such as the ones being proposed along France are way too tall and dense for a residential neighborhood. I know of no neighborhood approval for a project of this magnitude. It was just a few years ago that we were arguing against a six story building on the corner of 72nd and France. The current proposals are obviously significantly taller and way more inappropriate for this neighborhood. In our opinion, taller buildings ( greater than four stories) should be in the area between Xerxes/York and France and not encroaching on the residential neighborhoods to the west of France. Please listen and respect the opinions of the residents of these neighborhoods.

4 Supports
 
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Joe Corbett at October 16, 2017 at 9:58am CDT

Modeling what's been done with new hotels at the MOA, I believe the Southdale Area could handle taller heights directly adjacent to the mall without blocking anyone's sunlight or views. I'm concerned that even if we try to limit height, we will inevitably get the same density when it's most efficient to go up. I think that the fight over by Linden Hills corner could ultimately stifle future development. While traffic, views, etc. are important, I think it's important to consider the long-terms effects of sending developers elsewhere might be, and what the benefits of additional tax revenue might be when the schools are perpetually underfunded. Wouldn't it be nice if we got enough money from property taxes such that the schools didn't require referendums?

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patricia schreiber at October 16, 2017 at 10:33am CDT

How many homes are in the shadows of the MOA? Think about it, Joe. Where do YOU live? Several years ago, the council let go of a proposal at 7200 France because of the opposition of residents. Comments from those in favor of that project were similar to yours but thankfully the council actually listened to the tax paying neighborhood. Now, another development has come along, and as told to me by a council member himself, "it's better than what we gave up!" A developer WILL come along for this property also. A bad business decision by Bernardi should not be our problem. The new comprehensive plan MUST be put in place first.

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Joe Corbett at October 16, 2017 at 11:13am CDT

Hi Patricia. To clarify, I'm suggesting we look at development that's attached to Southdale, the way that the 2 new hotels are at MOA. The Southdale area already supports the 18 story Westin, so similar buildings that are literally attached to Southdale could fit in nicely without hugging nearby residential streets - they would be buffered by the vast parking lots around Southdale. I'm essentially supporting Bruce's earlier comment, not advocating for tall buildings adjacent to residential neighborhoods.

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patricia schreiber at October 16, 2017 at 11:34am CDT

Thank you for clarifying, the term adjacent was too broad! :) I appreciate your reply. Maybe like the MOA, but on a smaller scale.

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carol carlson at October 16, 2017 at 3:27pm CDT

Dear Joe,

Please respond to where you live. I have written the city council regarding the Estelle projects citing my concerns over increased traffic, height, revenue, light pollution, walkability, etc. It is apparent to me that changing the heights that are allowed would set a dangerous precedent for all of Edina. We have already absorbed most of the new high density housing. How much is enough?

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Gary Bartolett at October 16, 2017 at 4:39pm CDT

I live in far southwest Edina and the Southdale area already feels like it has a big Keep Out sign on it. To get to the Southdale Library I have to go through 4 stop signs and 7 stop lights and fight my way down Roundy Road. I can make it to Eden Prairie which is farther away in 1 stop sign and two stop lights and get home before my pizza gets cold. Walkable is only fine if the businesses inside it can survive on the business of those close enough to walk there. The Southdale businesses clearly cannot do this so density strangles itself.

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Rebecca Nye at October 16, 2017 at 7:51pm CDT

Our home is in the Pamela Park neighborhood close to Crosstown and France. I am opposed to building heights over four stories because of traffic, noise and density issues. The Estelle project would ruin the adjoining Cornelia neighborhood. Furthermore, it is already so difficult to get out of our neighborhood in order to do errands in the Southdale area. Please don't make it more difficult.

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Barb Rae at October 16, 2017 at 10:26pm CDT

Southdale used to be a 5 minute drive from West 70th Steet and Cahill. It can now take 20 minutes or more, depending on the time of day. I think the city needs to stay with the comprehensive height plan it has or risk having Edina become so congested that people will no longer see it as a desirable place to live.

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Marie Sullivan at October 17, 2017 at 12:43pm CDT

The current zoning for no more than 4 stories should remain in place for the west side of France Avenue to preserve and protect an appropriate buffer zone between the nearby single family homes and the Southdale area development. The current zoning was well thought out and delivers the necessary aesthetic and responsible height restrictions necessary to maintain current home values and livability. The height restrictions for the east edge of France Ave. should be 6 stories or less, and heights further east between France and Xerxes should be limited to 12 and under. We are not Dallas or New York or Denver, or even Minneapolis! We are Edina and are a suburb and want to retain a smaller town feel. We should not pollute the night skies with lights, nor should we block home owners' sunshine. We should not create so much housing that our schools could not handle future enrollment. We should not create a density our aquifer cannot handle. Why build tall, luxury condos that pollute our skies and block our sun for wealthy retired people who leave their condos vacant half the year while they winter down south? The current zoning should be adhered to and the city council should stop forcing its home owners to fight to protect our well planned zoning! Let the developers know we will not be changing our zoning!

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Tom Sullivan at October 17, 2017 at 1:25pm CDT

To add my dissent to the Estelle project, I would like to point out that the potential change in the Comp Plan, while allowing a WAY TOO tall Estelle project to proceed, would usher in many more 24 story towers on the West side of France Avenue. This is not just a fight to repel the Estelle project, but rather a fight to keep the next 10 or 15 similar projects that will surely follow this one. Developers will be doing cartwheels of joy if the Comp Plan allows 24 stories. Say goodbye to all of the 1-4 story building on the West side of France. There will be endless construction because there will be riches for builders to realize. We must have our voices heard!!

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Tom Sullivan at October 17, 2017 at 1:28pm CDT

Also, we must call the City Council staff to task when they claim there is community support for the Estelle project. They must give us an honest report on the actual pro/con tally. I have heard SCANT support for Estelle. However, I must admit, I do not talk to many real estate developers or realtors.

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Ralph Zickert at October 18, 2017 at 11:41am CDT

Building height must remain a component of the Comprehensive Plan. Height together with density and usage provide the foundation on which a vision for an area can become a reality. More thoughts on specific height guidelines to follow.

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Suzanne Cluckey at October 21, 2017 at 3:28pm CDT

I was frankly dumbstruck that the planning commission was willing to support the Estelle towers design as presented. And I thank each of the city council members who brought the good judgment to the table to deny variance for a project so monumentally out of scale with the surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Change is inevitable, but let's have it thoughtfully planned and implemented. I'd love to see 7200 and 7250 France redeveloped; the buildings there now are abominably ugly. But I'm not willing to accept a 14-story high-density development in their place — or to take the word of a development company that there's simply no other feasible solution. I think that just shows a lack of imagination — or an overabundance of greed. Or both.

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