Skyway project approved by Coon Rapids council

Members of the Coon Rapids City Council are excited that the city is getting its first skyway.

Architect’s rendering of the proposed skyway looking west from Coon Rapids Boulevard that will link Mercy Hospital with the medical building now under construction on the north side of the boulevard. Source: city of Coon Rapids

Architect’s rendering of the proposed skyway looking west from Coon Rapids Boulevard that will link Mercy Hospital with the medical building now under construction on the north side of the boulevard. Source: city of Coon Rapids

The council, on a 6-0 vote May 7 – Councilmember Bruce Sanders was not at the meeting – approved a site plan for construction of a skyway over Coon Rapids Boulevard to connect Mercy Hospital with the new Allina medical building now under construction on the north side of the boulevard.

The Coon Rapids Planning Commission had recommended approval of the site plan following a public hearing at its April meeting.

According to David Moga, project manager for Pope Architects, Inc., the architect for both the medical building and skyway, plans are to have the skyway open at the same time that the medical building is ready for occupancy.

Construction is expected to start on the skyway in late summer or early fall and continue over the winter, Moga said.

The target date for the skyway to open and the medical building to be completed is the first week of February 2014, he said.

“Right now, there is over 70 percent occupancy committed in the medical building,” Moga said.

Councilmember Paul Johnson described the skyway project as “exciting and fantastic” for the city.

Mercy Hospital is the largest employer in the city and a top corporate citizen, according to Johnson.

“The skyway is a big thing for Coon Rapids,” said Mayor Tim Howe.

“There are exciting things happening at that end of Coon Rapids Boulevard.”

Not only are the medical building and skyway under construction or about to start, but an eye clinic is being built at the corner of Coon Rapids and Round Lake boulevards, Howe said.

“I would like to see this kind of development along the entire length of Coon Rapids Boulevard,” he said.

According to Coon Rapids Planner Scott Harlicker, the skyway will connect the south side of the medical office building at the southeast corner with the north side of the hospital near the main entrance.

The skyway will extend 300 feet from the south side of the office building across Coon Rapids Boulevard, it will then run 160 feet parallel to the south side of Coon Rapids Boulevard and then 80 feet south into the hospital, Harlicker wrote in a report to the commission.

A small addition will be constructed by the main hospital entrance for the skyway connection, he said.

There will be 18 feet of clearance between the bottom of the skyway and Coon Rapids Boulevard.

The current overhead utility lines will be moved underground, except for the cable line, which will remain above ground and run under the skyway, Harlicker said.

And some of the evergreen trees in front of the hospital on Coon Rapids Boulevard will have to be removed to accommodate the skyway, he said.

According to Harlicker, project applicant Frauenshuh Healthcare, a Minneapolis-based company that develops, finances and leases medical office buildings, has been working closely with the Anoka County Highway Department – Coon Rapids Boulevard is a county highway – to respond to its concerns.

A condition of site plan approval is that all Anoka County comments be addressed.

The exterior of the skyway will be a mix of gray, red and beige architectural metal panels and glass windows, Harlicker said. The supports will be concrete covered with a gray architectural metal panel; the bottom four feet will be exposed aggregate, he wrote in his report.

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