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City officials explore possibilities for project

Planning for a 5,000 acre development is something very few people have done before, especially in this area. So to get some insight into what is possible and how to do it a group of representatives from the University of Minnesota, the city of Rosemount and Dakota County spent two days in Denver in mid-November touring and learning about several developments there that have similarities to the one being planned by the university in Rosemount and Empire Township.

Among those who made the trip were Rosemount city administrator Dwight Johnson, mayor Bill Droste, city council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan and community development director Kim Lindquist.

The goal of the trip, said Charles Muscoplat, university vice president of statewide strategic resource development, was to see examples of what is possible with the 5,000 acres located in and around Rosemount.

Over the past 20 years several large developments have been built in the Denver area that have similarities to what the university is proposing to do with the UMore property. Development of more than 4,000 formerly occupied by an airport in urban Denver at Stapleton, Colo. provided good insight into what is possible.

"It served as a great example of what can be done," said Muscoplat.

In all the delegation visited eight sites.

As progress is made Muscoplat said it's important to keep all the involved entities, including the city, county and Empire Township on the same page. Inviting them on the trip, he said, was a way to do that.

"I thought it was good," said Muscoplat.

City administrator Dwight Johnson agreed.

"Actually spending some time with the university officials provided some insight into what they are are thinking," said Johnson.

In addition, Johnson said he found it interesting to see the various developments and the elements that went into them. He said cluster development with an emphasis on open space was prominent there and a lot of attention was paid to architectural details.

"Just the general design considerations were something I had never thought of ," said Johnson.

Transit development stuck out in Droste's mind as particularly interesting.

"The transit component was very important," Droste said.

Looking at different aspects of the developments provided some food for thought, Droste said. He added that the UMore project is an incredible opportunity that planners must approach with care.

"It's somewhat like building a whole city," Droste said.

Another aspect Droste said he found interesting was remediation done on the various sites. A former gunpowder plant, the UMore site faces some hurdles when it comes to cleaning up the area. Droste said several of the developments, including the former airport site, faced similar hurdles and had interesting input on how to go about it.

"The similarities there were helpful," said Droste.

Overall Droste called the trip "an eye opening experience."

The master plan for the UMore development, which over the next few decades could grow larger than Rosemount's current size, calls for homes built with energy-efficient materials, neighborhoods that encourage walking and an eco-industrial park in which firms will work together to make the best use of raw materials and reduce waste.

University of Minnesota regents approved a series of resolutions Dec. 12 that accepted the master plan, created a limited liability corporation to manage the project and created an endowment to manage any profit the U of M makes on the development.

Although the wheels have been set in motion Muscoplat said it will be several years before work begins. Full development could take 25 or even 50 years, he added.

Rosemount city officials plan to put together a synopsis of their trip to share with the port authority.