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Despite concerns, downtown project has potential

Even as construction work nears completion, the first phase of Rosemount's long talked-about downtown reconstruction effort remains controversial. You don't have to look beyond the letters this paper has received in recent weeks to know that.

Even years after the project first started to move from discussion to reality there are some in Rosemount upset about the decisions the city has made and the plans that resulted. Some of those concerns are spurred as much by personal interest as civic concern. One of our recent letter writers is the wife of a local business owner who had hoped to develop the land where Waterford Commons is now receiving its finishing touches, and who clashed often with the city over property issues. Another is the husband of a Rosemount City Council member.

Some object to the building for aesthetic reasons. Some express concerns over the city's use of eminent domain. And while eminent domain was never actually used to take property -- its use was authorized once, but the city and the property owner came to an agreement -- it was a constant threat. Others are excited for the new life it could bring to downtown.

For now, at least, we're reserving our final judgment. We're not crazy about the look of the new building. At three stories, Waterford Commons is taller than anything downtown that doesn't hold grain. The complex, much of which is hidden from drivers passing on Highway 3, takes up much of a block. And it looks like the kind of mixed-use building you could see in just about any suburb looking to recreate a downtown feel. There's not much about it that's distinctly Rosemount.

But we also see a lot of potential. There are already people living in 29 of the building's rental units, and there are signed leases for many more of those units. That means more people downtown. More people downtown should translate to more business in the city. And that should make it easier to find businesses to occupy the commercial space on the building's lower level. That, in turn, will benefit people who already call Rosemount home. That's good news.

It's been a long road to get to this point. There have been plenty of harsh words and disagreements. Now, though, it's the results that matter. We think there's plenty of potential for this project to be good for Roseomount.