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

74 Responses

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Joel Stegner, Community volunteer 3 months 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.

15 Supports
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Teri Ellis 2 months ago

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!!

11 Supports
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Amy Westrom about 1 month ago

Thank you so much Joel and Teri, I completely agree! I also live on Barrie Road and was horrified at the Estelle proposal. This isn't just about the Cornelia neighborhood, there are neighborhoods between France and Xerxes as well, with residents whose daily lives would be negatively affected by this development.

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Kristin Reichling 3 months 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.

15 Supports
 
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Jennifer Hennemuth 3 months 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.

18 Supports
 
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Kaylin Eidsness admin 3 months 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.

13 Supports
 
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Matthew McGivney 2 months 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.

18 Supports
 
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Bruce McCarthy 2 months 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.

18 Supports
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Joe Corbett about 1 month ago

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

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Alan Solyntjes 2 months 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.

12 Supports
 
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Laura Lehmann 2 months 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.

17 Supports
 
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Mike Ebnet 2 months 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.

15 Supports
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Rachel Mondry 2 months ago

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

8 Supports
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Rhonda McGivney about 1 month ago

Urban planning with a broad vision for for the types of communities, lifestyles, population and rationale that is supported by local residents could drive and guide. The building height question is just one detail in the mix without a described future vision. I'd think that would be input useful to a comprehensive plan.

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Marybeth Nelson 2 months 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.

11 Supports
 
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Leo Sioris 2 months 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.

12 Supports
 
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Bill Owens 2 months ago

12 stories max!

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Beth Choukalas 2 months 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?

17 Supports
 
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Jerry Hobbs 2 months 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.

13 Supports
 
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Mary Swendsen 2 months 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.

3 Supports
 
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RICHARD A MINER 2 months 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.

10 Supports
 
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Joann Russell 2 months 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 2 months ago

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!!

15 Supports
 
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Marena Arbelia 2 months ago

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.

12 Supports
 
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Gary Thacher about 1 month ago

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.

13 Supports
 
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Sara Amaden about 1 month ago

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?

6 Supports
 
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Patty Evans about 1 month ago

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.

9 Supports
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Amy Westrom about 1 month ago

I live Wast of France Avenue between France and Xerxes. I don't want these tall buildings in my neighborhood any more than you do. We ALL live here in Edina, regardless of whether we are East or West of France Avenue. Please, let ALL of us continue to see the sky!

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Joe Corbett about 1 month ago

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?

3 Supports
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patricia schreiber about 1 month ago

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.

2 Supports
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Joe Corbett about 1 month ago

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 about 1 month ago

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 about 1 month ago

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?

5 Supports
 
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Gary Bartolett about 1 month ago

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 about 1 month ago

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 about 1 month ago

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 about 1 month ago

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!

4 Supports
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Amy Westrom about 1 month ago

I live east of France Avenue between France and Xerxes. I do not want 12 story buildings in my neighborhood any more than you do! Six stories, maximum.

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Tom Sullivan about 1 month ago

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!!

6 Supports
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Amy Westrom about 1 month ago

I live east of France Avenue between France and Xerxes. I don't want these tall buildings in my neighborhood any more than you do. Please, enough of the NIMBY. We ALL live here in Edina, regardless of whether we are East or West of France Avenue. Yes, please let our voices be heard!

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Tom Sullivan about 1 month ago

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 about 1 month ago

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 about 1 month ago

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.

8 Supports
 
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Kirk Grandstrand about 1 month ago

Common sense restrictions must be a key component of any comprehensive and neighborhood plan. Common sense should be defined as any construction that does not have an adverse impact on the bordering neighborhood. Adverse impacts can include such nuisances as: visual obstruction caused by excessive height, noise pollution, significant increases in traffic, or any unintended tax burdens created for Edina citizens not borne by developers. Also, I would like to see Commissioners and Council Members adhere strictly to whatever strategic vision is implemented.

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Anne Griffiths about 1 month ago

Continue current height requirements per the expiring Comp plan and enforce graded height standards to buffer neighborhoods. The DoubleTree is an eyesore and putting up more buildings of that height will hurt property value with unappealing interruptions to view. That's without the issue of traffic. Furthermore, I support low height multi-family housing but large projects like the Estelle will attract buyers who are not motivated to support school levies (fewer kids will inhabit those buidings), ultimately leading to a downward trend in property values. The land and quality of the homes are not the major driver of the property value here, thus we need to protect the success and desirability of our schools.

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Leslie Iyer about 1 month ago

We need to maintain the common sense height restrictions offered by the Southdale working group and the comp plan: transition areas need to be maintained as 4-5 story maximum building heights. This would be true whether the transition zone is immediately adjacent to single family homes, or is adjacent to duplex or 1-2 story apartment buildings that serve as a even lower transition zones. Modern traffic studies need to be completed and reviewed with all the various projects that are either in the works or proposed TAKEN TOGETHER - the Estelle project was not even brought before the Edina Transportation Commission for review, much less studied for its impact on 70th, 66th and Valley View.

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Erin Brumm about 1 month ago

I would be fine with 4 stories like much of Edina. The Estelle project was was too large for the proposed area. I would have been more open minded to 4 stories. There are places like pentagon park or off 494 to our large high rises. The Cornelia area is overly crowded now. School was full avd needed two enlargements. Traffic on France and 7oth is jam packed all day. We’re putting Lot new building around southdale. Slow down. See how they work. Stop trying box neighborhoods in by towers. That’s appropriate downtown. Not in Edina

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Ann Makres about 1 month ago

We would be comfortable with retaining the current height restrictions in this area. Residential areas are located too close to France to allow an increase in height. We live in the Cornelia area because we want to live in a neighborhood where we know our neighbors and not an area like downtown where neighbors are strangers.

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John Jurkovich about 1 month ago

The 2018 Comprehensive Plan should support Vision Edina and protect the local neighborhoods. Buildings closest to the neighborhoods should be appropriate in scale and impact to provide a meaningful transition in terms of height and density. Current building height restrictions for sites closest to the neighborhoods are 4 stories (48 ft. max). This seems appropriate and should be supported going forward.

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Margaret Kinney about 1 month ago

I understand the Comp Plan has some impact on how decisions are made, but it is really up to Zoning to make the final determination about development and plans. I am not sure which individuals or entities make up the zoning committee, but emphasis needs to be placed on that group of people on approving reasonable plans. I think the current Comp Plan makes sense. I am curious to know what the "Southdale Plan" actually entails and how the city is planning/ reviewing current and future developments.

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Nora Davis about 1 month ago

Planning for the Southdale area should be done thoughtfully - with input from the surrounding neighborhoods. Southdale is part of Edina's history - and excessive height would obscure that history. As one of the millennials at my work place commented "why would they put tall buildings in that area - they would look so "out of place". Allowing tall buildings along the edges of the Southdale area on France Avenue would isolate the surrounding neighborhoods. Villages need to be created - not silos. Tall buildings belong near the freeway - or near Public Works, not in the Greater Southdale area. Our new Comp Plan needs to include restrictions - re: height and those important Transition Zones.

6 Supports
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Amy Westrom about 1 month ago

Thank you Nora! I completely agree. I live between France and Xerxes, and Crosstown/62 and 66th Street. This is my home. Just because I am adjacent to Southdale doesn't mean I want to have my view of the sky blocked with tall buildings, and the additional traffic congestion, any more than Cornelia residents do. Silos, indeed!

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Nora Davis about 1 month ago

Amy - Do you by chance live at the Colony? My husband & I lived there when we moved back to Minnesota - and I have fond memories of that area. And I agree about the east side - I feel sorry for our neighbors in Richfield! Those massive buildings belong down by 494 - Nora

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Jon DeMars Victorsen about 1 month ago

Fifty stories if it causes airplane traffic to veer away from Edina! From a planning standpoint all the rules have changed from years ago in how we picture "home" and "community." Edina neighborhoods no longer have focus of a grade school or parks. To me, Southdale is looking more like New York City, with tall buildings hugging Central Park. If that paradigm fits the direction of new construction, then let's embrace it. Let's have high density around Southdale, so at least one part of Edina can attract dependable rapid transit.

1 Support
 
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TM Fisher about 1 month ago

Edina touts neighborhoods as the "backbone" of our community. Planning commission, city council and the Mayor must continue to respect the Lake Cornelia Neighborhood - and say "NO" to amending the Comp Plan to increase height and add more density. This is a lovely neighborhood, let's keep this that way for the next generation.

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Jennifer OBrien about 1 month ago

I agree that the current Comp Plan standards seem appropriate to the neighborhood with lower 4-story buildings with a buffer and 12-stories closer to commercial areas.

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Kari Geadelmann about 1 month ago

Please adhere to the current comp plan in the Southdale area regarding heights, and a maximum of 4 story buildings. This is especially important West of France Avenue, where there are single family homes. Buildings with greater height belong closer to 494, Pentagon Park, and the public works area. Please maintain the single family neighborhood feel, by not surrounding the Lake Cornelia area with tall buildings. If homeowners wanted that feel, they would have purchased in downtown Minneapolis, Uptown, or elsewhere. Not Edina. I fully understand that development and change is inevitable, but I ask you to be thoughtful with your choices. With every decision, please try to put yourself in the shoes of those who live in the area. Thank you for being an advocate for Edina residents and for the historic Lake Cornelia Neighborhood.

4 Supports
 
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Neal Tillotson about 1 month ago

I attended the Planning Commission and City Council meetings on Estelle-Edina. The most extraordinary aspect of those meetings was the utter failure of Mr. Bernardi and Mr. Ryan to make a viable case for their grotesque proposal based on the nine principles of the Southdale Working Group—principles upon which the entire proposal was supposedly predicated.

Would a 24-story building have built upon existing assets any more effectively than, say, a 12-story building? Would it have improved access any more? Would it have been more walkable, more human-scaled, or more architecturally varied? Would it have been any more mixed-use, more of a destination, or any more family friendly? More green? More adaptable to summer or winter conditions? Would a 24-story building have been any more connected than a building of reasonable height?

The answer to these questions should be obvious. The developers could not extrapolate from any of the nine principles the absolute need for a 24-story building. They just couldn’t do it.

And that’s because they were missing the 10th principle—the principle of profit. A 24-story building would simply have been a lot more profitable for the developers than a 12-story building. Or an 18-story, or a 4-story building. More stories, more profit. We all know that.

So the question I would respectfully ask the City Council to pose to any future developer, is this. Can they figure out a way to make enough profit—a reasonable profit—without violating the existing constraints. Is it even possible?

And if it is, then they should do it.

And if it isn’t, and if the Planning Commission or City Council approves a plan to violate the constraints—or, worse yet, removes or compromises the constraints in the 2018 plan—then there is only one logical conclusion that we can draw.

And that is, from that point forward, the guiding principle—the overriding principle—of the City of Edina would no longer be the general welfare of all of its residents, but instead the profit of its developers.

That would be the legacy of all who vote for such a change. They may not intend it to be that. They may not believe it to be that. But many of their constituents would perceive it to be that.

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Jenny Griskevicius about 1 month ago

Moderate building height is necessary in the transition zones between residential neighborhoods and commercial areas. As mentioned by many others, taller buildings directly adjacent to malls are somewhat expected and blend better; directly across the street from single-family homes, they are invasive and an eyesore. Although the Estelle project plan was beautiful, it was completely out of proportion to the surrounding neighborhood.

Regarding the new Comp Plan, I think it is extremely important to include height restrictions. If height restrictions are left out, thereby forcing a new debate for every project proposal that comes along, the developers will easily wear down the resolve of the neighborhood residents -- we can't spend the hours (to preserve our neighborhoods) on top of our regular lives the way that developers can spend those hours (to change our neighborhoods) as part of their jobs.

I agree that redevelopment of many of the properties in the Southdale area would be great; I ask that everyone continue to be very thoughtful with their decisions so we end up with a great result for Edina and all residents already living in the impacted neighborhoods.

Thank you for your work for our city.

3 Supports
 
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william Davis about 1 month ago

Edina has done a very nice job of 'blending' the medical area, commercial area and residential area in this part of our city. A significant change in terms of increasing the height of buildings would certainly impact especially the residential area. Our family has lived in our current home for 51 years. The Estelle project proposal certainly brought to the forefront significant concerns, which I share, concerning the impact this would have on the single dwelling residential area.

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Mark Manfred about 1 month ago

The Planning Commission and City Council should adhere to the existing Comprehensive Plan in the Southdale area. The Edina residents I have discussed this with don't want high buildings, especially near single-family homes. I disagree with some Council members who have suggested that Edina will stagnate if we don't allow high rise. My disagreement is based on my experience with Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Our daughter lives in Wilmette and she and her neighbors love the community. It has hardly any buildings over four stories, save the beautiful Bahai Temple which is far from single-family homes. Housing prices in Wilmette are well above the prices in Edina. There is no need for more high rise in Edina.

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Paul Bastyr about 1 month ago

I too attended the Estelle Meetings and was horrified that this proposal was actually developed this far with such complete disregard for the Cornelia Neighborhood. I support continuing the existing height restrictions (4 stories west of France Avenue) and protecting single family neighborhoods. If you want to add height and density - under 12 stories, add it in the core of the Southdale area where the buildings aren't disruptive to single family homes.

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Lisa Roberts about 1 month ago

The Comp Plan needs to retain the existing limitation of 4 stories or 48 feet in transition areas. The specific measurement in feet needs to remain as developers often will use different measurements for a story than 12 feet. While these issues should be addressed in zoning ordinances, this is currently not the case and should therefore remain. Removing the limitation would be detrimental to the neighborhoods. Currently, this is the only assurance, albeit not guaranteed as we seen with the Estelle Project, that home buyers have of what to reasonably expect when purchasing a home. Companies have the ability to include limitations and requirements in their land purchases/leases, such as Macy's demand to not block their view, but home buyers do not. We need to have clear regulations that protect residents, neighborhoods, and the city from wasteful development proposals like Estelle, and we need to have assurance that City officials will require residents and businesses to adhere to the regulations. The Comp Plan also needs to clearly define what a transition zone is to avoid developers trying to inject their own self-serving interpretation of it. The City needs to implement clear, the thoughtful, smart city planning that includes recommendations of residents, not just the unrealistic and out of touch desires of the Mayor, City Manager, and City Planner.

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Cosette DeCesare about 1 month ago

I do not feel comfortable with building heights greater than 4 stories on the West side of France Ave in the Southdale area. This is my neighborhood!!! I do not want towering buildings in it. It would completely change the feel of our community.

On the East side of France in the Southdale area I am comfortable with 12 stories - no higher than that. The area is already hugely congested as is. As a community, we should proceed with caution and deliberateness when planning new builds. Big picture!

3 Supports
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Amy Westrom about 1 month ago

I live east of France Avenue between France and Xerxes. I don't want these tall buildings in my neighborhood any more than you do. Please, enough of the NIMBY. We ALL live here in Edina.

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Lewis Marshall about 1 month ago

.My wife and I chose to live in Edina 25 years ago as a good place to raise our children. It was a quiet residential neighborhood. I don't feel having tall, densely populated buildings in a single family neighborhood is a good idea. It will lead to increased traffic cutting through our residential neighborhoods and by Cornelia elementary school. Commercial buildings over four stories tall should be kept East of France Av. The city of Edina should follow the existing comprehensive plan.

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Amy Westrom about 1 month ago

I live east of France Avenue between France and Xerxes. I don't want these tall buildings in my neighborhood any more than you do. Please, enough of the NIMBY. We ALL live here in Edina.

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patricia schreiber about 1 month ago

The general consensus of all discussions on building heights seems to be to keep them within the current comp plan and respect the transitional zone as well. The neighborhoods should be protected! Those people wanting to downsize to luxury condos have had the opportunity to live in their homes and raise their families, with that protection, all the while enjoying what Edina has to offer. Families moving into their homes should be able to enjoy that same protection. How often we hear that families want to live here for the school system. These are families with adults and children who can contribute and give back to our community and be part of our future. To make the neighborhoods less appealing by allowing obtrusively large living units so close would be ashame. The practicality of keeping the density within reason benefits those families as they have to commute to work, school and so many of their children's activities within reasonable time frames. I believe the council can find developers who can meet the needs of those wanting to downsize in Edina and the city's wishes to honor that in ways that will still protect what we now have in our neighborhoods. Several lower height units placed in various parts of the city could accommodate the numbers of those downsizing, they do not all need to be in the Southdale area. At the same time the Galleria is expanding its retail, Southdale is struggling, the retail below the apartments behind Byerly's has vacancies, and there are future developments coming in that area with retail spaces. Estelle was adding more! How much can we support? How much of a 'beauty' would Estelle be if from street view we saw empty store fronts? Would it still be such a desirable "experience" if that were the case? It's the neighborhoods that are most important to this community, let's keep that priority in the forefront.

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Rick Hauritz about 1 month ago

Why are we talking about building height in the first place....we have a comprehensive plan for the future that address this issue. We have existing issues with traffic and population density, the city should address these issues and not complicate the issues with taller buildings which will add to the population and worsen the traffic. 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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Hope Melton about 1 month ago

The Southdale area is the right place for significant increases in building height, provided it makes room for pedestrian ways and green space. So far, Centennial Lakes is an excellent model and additional mixed use buildings at 10 - 12 stories. The Estelle Project building heights were too extreme and located too close to residential neighborhoods.

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Mark Chamberlain about 1 month ago

I don't feel the existing limits of 4 - 12 stories should be tampered with, unless you lower it to 2 - 8 stories. On France Avenue itself between 69th and 7250/Gallagher Drive any new redevelopment should be limited to 2/3 stories on the west side of the street and 4 stories on the east side of the street. Development of 4 - 6 stories should be at least 1 block east of France and 1 block west of York. Development of 6 -8 stories should be at least 2 blocks east of France and 2 blocks west of York. We don't need tall buildings and skyscrapers to be an "urban" area. Minneapolis is an urban city, but outside of the downtown core there are very few areas that have 10 -12 story buildings, let alone skyscrapers. The Cornelia neighborhood began development in the mid 1950's, around the same time as Southdale. Commercial development on the west side of France Ave between 69th & Gallagher Dr. didn't start until they built the 1 story former Vikings headquarters, now the Cremation Society, at 7110 France Ave in 1963. The 1 story Bremer bank site at 6900 was built in 1966, and the 2 story office buildings at 6950 and 7200 France followed in 1967. Our former City leaders recognized the need to gradually transition the residential neighborhoods to the commercial district, something that seems to be lost on today's leaders. The Cornelia neighborhood has not receded to the west, so the needs that were recognized by our leaders in the 50's and 60's are still there today. Regarding the "core" of the Southdale area, between France and York, I see no need to build taller than 8 - 10 stories. Tastefully done we could have a vibrant environment in the Southdale area without high rises and skyscrapers. There is a great need to figure out how to handle congestion and traffic in the area and that cannot be done by evaluating each individual project that comes along in isolation. The City needs to take control and have a master plan for the area that lets developers and residents know what height is and is not acceptable in different areas of the district and then stick to it. If we had such a plan and the resolve to stick to it developers like Ryan would never think of proposing a skyscraper anywhere in the District because they would know from the start that the answer would be no. It is my understanding that developers indicated to the Southdale Area Workgroup that they would like to have clear guidelines to work within. It's time for the City to get on board.

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Scott Anderson about 1 month ago

The height limits of 4 stories for the buffer zones should not be changed, as this ensures that our neighborhoods will be enhanced and protected as the Southdale area experiences redevelopment. I would be open to buildings taller than 12 stories as long as the existing set back limits are honored. This also serves to protect the residential neighborhoods.

"The City of Edina Strategic Vision and Framework" document states, "Residential neighborhoods continue to serve as the defining characteristic of the city, and there is a high desire to protect and enhance such neighborhoods." The residential neighborhoods are not merely considered "a defining characteristic," but rather "the defining characteristic." Therefore, when considering comprehensive plans, careful consideration needs to be given to building heights that will "protect and enhance" the neighborhoods, not do the opposite. There is a place for taller buildings to be built. However, that is not right across the street from low-density single family housing, as was proposed with the Estelle project. Buffer zones that have wisely been part of comprehensive plans over the years should be respected. Nothing has changed that has made buffer zones irrelevant. The place for taller buildings in the Southdale area is in the middle of the York Ave - France Ave, not on the fringes or even outside.

I was significantly disappointed by the planning commission members who voted in favor of "spot zoning" for the Estelle project, by amending the comprehensive plan. I strongly urge the planning commission members to consider the reasons why every city council member, other than Mayor Hovland, voted against amending the comprehensive plan to allow for the Estelle to be built on the west side of France Ave.

Thank you City council members for remembering that your residential neighborhoods are THE defining characteristic of Edina and for protecting them as such!

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John Carlson about 1 month ago

Building height in the Southdale area (pretty much between 62nd and 494/France and York/Xerxes) should be a function of proximity to residential neighborhoods, set backs, and transition. In the core of the area, I am ok with taller buildings similar to Centennial Lakes Office Park; say 6-8 floors. At the south and north points of the Southdale area, I think there is room for taller buildings; say 10-15 floors. Along France, height should be limited to 2 stories if there is no transition to SFR neighborhoods. I good transition is available, then I feel buildings along France can be 4 floors; the Wings Financial is an example. In these cases, parking should be screened, again similar to Centennial Lakes Office park. There are areas along France where the building is 1 story in height and to the west are 1 story commercial /industrial; I believe these sites are underutilized. Set backs, berms, and screening make a big difference. Macy's large, exposed parking lot is not attractive. A 4 story building along France, needs appropriate set backs, berms to protect pedestrians, and screened parking. The York/Xerxes corridor does not have SFR to worry about, so slightly taller projects can be tolerated.

FYI, I think the Council reached the absolutely correct decision on Estelle. The project was way out of bounds for Edina.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

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Marie Sullivan about 1 month ago

I absolutely agree 12 stories is way too tall anywhere near lower height residents as well as businesses, whether east or west of France! Also, even though Pentagon Park is closer to 494, that area should never be more than 4 stories because it is directly south of residential homes!

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