While the many city officials are happy wants to redevelop and stay in Richfield, many are having trouble accepting various pieces—from accessibility to ascetics—of the company’s redevelopment plans.
“Yes, we think Menards is a great use [on that property on Nicollet Avenue]. Yes, we want to work through obstacles … As a staff we are very supportive of this project,” said Director John Stark at a special session meeting Tuesday night. “But [the plans] need some work.”
Menards plans to knock down the existing store and to create a two-story superstore on the now nearly 10-acre site.
However, a major roadblock is that the area is zoned for multi-use commercial use, which presents an issue for developers. From what it seemed, while Jun Bo was there, the property was multi-use.
In an attempt to meet the requirement, developers worked with , located on the frontage road, to essentially “swap” properties, putting Burger King at the front of the property on Nicollet Avenue. Unfortunately, the deal fell through due to economics, according to Theron Berg, real estate manager for Menards.
To get around the zoning issues without having to change the comprehensive plan, Stark suggested the council consider a conditional use permit for the developers rather than changing or eliminating portions of the comprehensive plan.
City Attorney Corrine Heine agreed with Stark and said: “It is unique and you get to put the conditions on … There’s an established use. It’s on the same site … and it can bring you closer to your vision [for the area].”
Menards and city officials also discussed the possibility of the Menards building itself being multi-use by having another tenant such as a bank in the building. Berg referred to this a Wal-Mart and Target model, and said the company had done this in the past.
Other concerns and/or desires of the council, commission and staff members included:
- Easy accessibility to and from the parking lot;
- Reduced number of parking spaces;
- The putting up of a wall on the 77th Street side, which would be an eyesore;
- Future expansion of I-494;
- More landscaping and green space.
Berg was hoping to find some common ground Tuesday and said Menards would consider all suggestions.
“There are going to be some things that are very hard to do [and it is after all] a Menards store,” he said. “[Of course we’re] taking into account that you want it to look nice.”
Berg also told city officials that Menards does one demolition a year. In order for the Richfield project to be next, all plans would need to be approved by the end of the year.
No decisions were made Tuesday. The city will likely go the conditional use permit route. More adjustments will be made to the plans and Menards and city staff will continue to work toward a compromise. Richfield Patch will update readers when more information becomes available.