Lease in place to move ahead on Anoka parking ramp

With lease agreements in place, next week the Anoka City Council is expected to approve the plans and specifications for a new parking ramp at the Northstar Commuter Rail station.

The ramp off Fourth Avenue will consolidate parking at the site, opening up room for development around the station.

The city has a long-term plan in place that includes commercial and residential development for the area around the station.

Earlier this month the Anoka City Council approved a lease agreement with the Metropolitan Council. Councilmember Steve Schmidt abstained from the vote, which was otherwise unanimous. Schmidt owns property in the area.

While the city will own the ramp, it will be maintained and operated by the Metropolitan Council through Metro Transit, said Planning Director Carolyn Braun.

“This means the Met Council will be responsible for any capital improvements and any future improvements to the ramp,” she said. “If something happens and the ramp were destroyed, the cost of reconstruction would not be borne by the city.”

The lease allows the city the right to place kiosks on the site.

The Met Council will remove the snow from the ramp and pile it on site, which would then be removed by city workers, said Braun.

The city has been negotiating this lease since October.

“This is a multi jurisdictional project that has taken a long time,” said City Manager Tim Cruikshank.

“We really have a good lease before us. We had many concerns at the staff level that have mostly, if not entirely, have been met.”

Although the lease is for an unprecedented 86 years, with the first renewal not due for 100 years, it is the same duration of the lease between the city and the Met Council for the current surface parking lot.

“The important things to note are number one that the city has no responsibility for the future replacement of that ramp,” said Cruikshank.

“Secondly if 50 or 100 years or 186 years from now and rail is no longer a way to transport things and people… with 30 days notice the property gets turned back and we can do whatever we want with it.”

Construction on the $9 million, 300-stall parking ramp on the south side of the rail station is expected to begin this spring.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]