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City considers role of retail, residential in vision for downtown

City Planner Anthony Nemcek shared information on the proposed Development Framework for Downtown Rosemount during a community meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9 at the Steeple Center. (RiverTown Multimedia photo by Kim Ukura)

What kind of commercial and residential development makes sense in Rosemount's historic downtown area? What can be done to connect the community to its small town roots while providing a wide variety of retail and service businesses?

A task force of business owners, residents, city staff and elected officials have been meeting since June to review the downtown block by block in order to update the city's Development Framework for Downtown Rosemount in a way that helps answer these questions.

"The vision of the framework for downtown is a place that connects the community to its small-town roots while providing a wide variety of businesses that blend retail and service with residential and civic uses," said City Planner Anthony Nemcek. "Rosemount's downtown is the place for people who want big-city amenities with small-town feel."

The vision for development was last reviewed in 2004, before projects like Waterford Commons, the Steeple Center, Culver's and Cambrian Commons were completed. The framework includes the area along Highway 3 between 143rd Street and County Road 42.

"A lot of things have occurred — especially in the last 10 years — so we wanted to look at our downtown plan," said Mayor Bill Droste.

City staff presented the work of the task force and solicited feedback on the proposal a community meeting Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Steeple Center.

Planning for commercial growth

A recent market study conducted by Maxfield Research suggests that there is room for 71,000 additional square feet of commercial development in downtown Rosemount, a mix of neighborhood retail, speciality retail and office space.

Examples of neighborhood retail include coffee shops or restaurants, anything designed to serve the residents living in or near downtown. Specialty retail includes businesses like flower shops or gift shops, that residents would visit less frequently, Nemcek said.

The development framework includes opportunities for commercial development in almost every block, a mix of individual buildings or mix-used space.

One area where commercial development could be limited is at "Crossroads North," the northwest corner of Highway 3 and 145th Street, as a way to better connect Central Park with the downtown area.

The framework includes three suggestions — several small businesses, one prominent building, or no commercial facilities.

"It's really embracing that idea of bringing Central Park into the core of downtown... the idea is to get people to flow easily into Central Park," said Nemcek.

The biggest change could come in the area identified as "Core Block West," west of Highway 3 between 145th Street in the north and 147th Street in the south.

Although the area has several historic buildings and local businesses, Nemcek said the area is primarily "characterized by the large number of parking lots that currently exist."

The development framework suggests different configurations that would hide the parking lots from view along Highway 3, provide better pedestrian access, and mimic current development like Waterford Commons to cut back on additional strip mall-style projects, Nemcek said.

The framework also includes some suggestions for areas with prominent local businesses, like the one that includes Celts, Carbones and Morning Glory's. The task force suggested that adding landscaping, fountains, or other greenery would make the block more inviting, Nemcek said.

Additional housing in downtown

Plans for downtown development also need to address some of the major population growth expected in Rosemount through the year 2040. According to projections provided by the Met Council, the population of Rosemount is expected to grow to 25,900 by 2020, 31,700 by 2030, and 38,000 by 2040.

Overall, more than 115,000 people are expected to move to Dakota County over the next 25 years.

The Maxfield Research market study suggested there is room for around 225 additional multi-family housing units in downtown through 2021, a mix of market-rate rentals and for-sale condos or townhomes. It also calls for 269 more senior housing units even sooner, a mix of age-restricted apartment buildings or units with additional services for seniors, Nemcek said.

The development framework suggests adding this higher-density housing along the edges, replacing blocks where single-family homes now sit along streets like Cameo Avenue or Cambrian Way west of Highway 3.

"It would be up to a developer to acquire all those parcels, which I don't think is impossible but is less likely than if it were all one block and one owner to negotiate with," said Nemcek.

The framework also stipulates that any high-density housing would need to be built considering the single-family residential neighborhood it is adjacent to.

Market-driven development

City staff emphasized that the information in the development framework is just a concept, and that any development in Rosemount's downtown would be market-driven by developers looking to work in the area.

"This gives them an idea of some older areas — if a developer wanted to move forward, what a project could potentially look like," said Droste.

Community Development Director Kim Lindquist said there are still a number of ways for residents to get involved and give feedback on the proposed framework. Questions and comments can be directed to Nemcek at 651-322-2090 or anthony.nemcek@ci.rosemount.mn.us.

Residents can learn more about the proposed downtown development framework online at bit.ly/2kuFtTk

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