West St. Paul City Council meeting

City Council Recap: Nov. 23, 2020

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The West St. Paul City Council approved changes to the Town Center One project, discussed lowering parking minimums, talked economic development strategy, and approved a search plan for a new city manager.

Town Center One Changes

The Town Center One project came before City Council and the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to approve changes with the inclusion of the Granny Donuts property. The changes include:

  • Reducing the building height from five stories to four.
  • Adding eight additional units.
  • Expanding the retail by an additional 250 square feet.
  • Adding 13 parking spaces.
  • Moving the dog park so it abuts Robert Street (it’s still set back 26 feet from the street).
  • Increasing the tax-increment financing (TIF) from $3.82 million to $5.1 million. While Council Member-elect Julie Eastman expressed concern at the increase during citizen comments, Council Member John Justen voiced his support, explaining that other changes to the TIF terms such as the taxable value are favorable to the city.

The developer Roers plans to close on December 7 and begin construction the next week with a planned opening in 2022. Roers is currently in talks with a restaurant for the retail space, but nothing is final.

Other Items:

  • City manager: The Council approved a transition plan for the outgoing city manager, including hiring the Mercer Group to lead the search process. The proposed timeline, which is entirely tentative and could change, has the City Council appointing a new city manager in late March with a start date one to two months later. The current Council will include the two recently elected Council members in the process to ensure a smooth transition. Current City Manager Ryan Schroeder has also agreed to stay on until his replacement is found.
  • Parking minimums: During the Open Council Work Session (OCWS), the Council considered proposals to reduce parking minimums from the Planning Commission. After some back and forth debate about the impact on development, staff will draft proposed ordinance changes to reduce parking minimums for commercial development.
  • Development initiatives: The EDA work session included an update about strategic initiatives for economic development. The agenda packet noted a lot of potential opportunities, including a map of 12 potential redevelopment sites. Economic Development Director Jim Hartshorn said those areas often have potential because some of the property is for sale or owners have mentioned being willing to sell. Hartshorn explained that his approach is old school—getting on the phone and talking to people. In terms of new projects in the works, Crew Car Wash has a purchase agreement for the former Baker’s Square and is working through site plans. Gents Bakery and Cafe is also looking at a site near Smith and Dodd.
  • Trail update: The economic development discussion did include an update on the River-to-River Greenway trail being routed through the former golf course. It’s part of a wetland reclamation project being led by Dakota County. The current holdup is funding—there’s a $800,000 to 900,000 gap in funding as the county continues to apply for grants.
  • Bond sale: The city sold $2.515 million worth of bonds from the 2012 sports dome, effectively refinancing at a lower interest rate (0.993%) and shaving a year off the term—ultimately saving the city at least $350,000.
  • Recognition: The City Council declared December 3 International Day of Persons With Disabilities, citing the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • Retirement: Mayor Dave Napier took a moment to acknowledge the retirement of Sergent Brent Nagel from the West St. Paul Police Department after 27 years of service. Nagel grew up and still lives in West St. Paul. He’ll continue to be active in local hockey during his retirement.

City Council meetings are currently held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch these meetings online: EDA work session, OCWS, regular City Council, and EDA meeting.

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