Three concepts for Foley development

Three concepts for future development around the Foley Boulevard park and ride facility were outlined at a Coon Rapids City Council work session Feb. 25.

Those concepts were developed by a consulting team of HHGi and SEH, hired by the city with grant dollars from the Metropolitan Council. The development options focus on a 70-plus acre area, generally bordered by Foley Boulevard, Coon Rapids Boulevard and East River Road.

The purpose of the planning study is to guide future development and infrastructure improvements near the park and ride to support “potential future transportation investments, such as a stop for Northstar Commuter Rail or Northern Lights Express, the high speed rail line from Minneapolis to Duluth,” according to Community Development Director Marc Nevinski.

The park and ride is one of the most used in the Metro Transit bus system, Nevinski said.

Development of the concepts followed meetings with various agencies, including Metro Transit, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Anoka County, Northern Lights Express, property owners, a design workshop open to the public in January and a February meeting with three developers to get their insight on the feasibility of the three proposed scenarios.

The three concepts presented to the council were:

• Continued industrial development, described as business as usual, which would be a light industrial focus similar to Evergreen Business Park with 73 acres of light industrial and four acres of retail (southwest corner of Foley and Coon Rapids boulevards). Net growth anticipated at 300 to 800 jobs.

• Corporate campus with 71 acres of corporate campus and office uses and five acres of retail (northwest corner of Foley and Coon Rapids boulevards). Net growth is estimated at 4,000 to 7,000 jobs.

• Mixed residential and office with 13 acres of high density residential and 10 acres of medium density residential in the area bordered by Coon Rapids and Foley boulevards and the railroad tracks, 47 acres of office space southwest of Coon Rapids and Foley boulevards adjacent to the park and ride as well as on East River Road, and five acres of retail of the northwest corner of Foley and Coon Rapids boulevards. It would add 325 to 550 new housing units with net growth projected at 3,000 to 4,000 jobs.

All three concepts are predicated on Anoka County constructing an overpass at the Foley railroad crossing, but not on construction of a rail station, according to Nevinski.

In addition, all three concepts add a loop road on the north side of Foley and extend existing 95th Lane to increase connectivity for existing businesses and future development.

Nevinski told the council that the developers’ panel did not think the corporate campus concept was realistic and the continued light industrial development concept would be in competition with other north metro cities who have raw, undeveloped land.

But the panel thought that the residential concept could provide high value to the city and be attractive to people working to the east or west, for example, at the Target campus in Brooklyn Park or Medtronic in Mounds View, Nevinski said.

The high density residential would likely have an urban feel, similar to the development at Highway 100 and 394 in St. Louis Park or the residential component of the Apache Plaza redevelopment in St. Anthony Village, he said.

Councilmembers did not settle on one concept, but were open to residential in the area when the now-closed Berry Plastics was located, west of Foley and south of Coon Rapids Boulevard.

But councilmembers wanted light industrial to continue on East River Road, where John Roberts Company and Kurt Manufacturing are located, not a change to office. They also did not want existing businesses on Foley to be affected.

“There was not a lot of support for any significant city investment or land assembly,” said Community Development Specialist Matt Brown.

That means development would have to be phased over time, Brown said.

The next step is to take all the feedback, from the council and others, to produce a single development plan. That would be presented at a public meeting before going to the Coon Rapids Planning Commission and then the city council for final action in the form of a comprehensive plan amendment and possible rezoning, a process that is expected to take two to three months.

Any residential component would require a land use change and rezoning from the current industrial, Brown said.

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