Anoka approves plan to market area around Northstar Station

With a 100-acre area ripe for redevelopment around Anoka’s Northstar station, Anoka is putting a plan on paper for the future.

The Anoka City Council unanimously approved the Anoka Station Plan, which outlines the preferred development and redevelopment near the Northstar Station.

Councilmember Steve Schmidt, who owns property in this area, abstained from discussion and the vote.

“It provides us with a marketing tool so if a developer comes in and they are interested in developing the site along the river we can say ‘here’s what it might look like,’” said City Planner Erik Thorvig.

Anoka received a $22,500 Livable Communities Transit Oriented Development grant from the Metropolitan Council to assist in the planning study. Hoisington Koegler Group was contracted to design the plan.

“The reason the city applied for that funding was to dress up our plan for the master plan for our rail station area and take a real aggressive approach to development and keep development going,” said Thorvig.

It was based on years and years of public input and market studies, he said.

The plan is a long-term vision stretching out 25 to 30 years that shows 831 residential units and just shy of 360,000 square feet of commercial development.

This includes a mix of high density residential, condos, rowhomes and townhouse along with premier office space overlooking Highway 10 and transit oriented retail options.

There is also some room for light industrial.

“Our industrial park is basically full and built out, but we want to have something in our back pocket in case we get a good industrial business that might come in,” said Thorvig.

Included are sell sheets for 15 identified parcels, which outlines what type of development options could take place on each.

“Those are sheets we can hand to developers and say this is what our vision is,” said Thorvig.

The redevelopment area is a mix of public and privately owned parcels and not all are ready for change right now.

“With a marketing tool like this it becomes more realistic,” said Mayor Phil Rice. “It’s difficult to look at all those parcels and all of the differences. It gives people something to look at.”

Councilmember Jeff Weaver acknowledged it is an ambitions plan that some people might doubt.

“It’s a wonderful vision and it’s necessary in the road map to show what’s possible and if we’re patient and keep a vision and keep a focus on what we want up in this area, it will happen over time,” said Weaver. “It’s going to happen over time. None of us may be here when it happens but it’s going to happen.”

But the city does have time on its side.

“We’re not under the gun, we don’t have to sell this today, we don’t have to sell it tomorrow,” said Weaver. “It can evolve all by itself and you don’t have to create projects to come in.”

Councilmember Mark Freeburg suggested site one, a piece of property along the Rum River identified for owner-occupied condos, would be the easiest place to start.

“It’s not a difficult one,” said Freeburg. “We just have to find someone who thinks it’s a good idea. Get the easy ones going, then you’ve got momentum.”

Thorvig said the city will be working with a broker to market this property very soon.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]

  • Jim

    I live in Ramsey over a mile north of the Hiway 47 and 4th Ave (Northstar) crossings. I thought at that distance I would be safe from train noise. I was wrong. This line is extremely busy – constant train engine and horn noise – all day – and all night – I would say approaching now over 100 trains every 24 hours (used to be 74/day back in 1996). Even at a mile away, the train noise is noticeable even with windows closed and fan on. Thank goodness there are so many “tolerant” people in this world who woud accept this kind of noise in their lives where they work, live and – try to get in catnaps between the all night trains. I know Anoka is working with the BNSF and MNDot folks to establish no-blow for these two crossings. That will help tremendously.