Redevelopment will raze Rice Street strip mall


The Shoreview mall near Interstate 694 will make way for apartments and townhomes. (Mike Munzenrider/Review)

With the strip mall being replaced by apartments, Shoreview Barbers, which had been located at the mall for some 40 years, moved to Little Canada’s Thunder Bay Plaza. (Mike Munzenrider/Review)

Plans are in the works for a new development in Shoreview, off Interstate 694 on the northwest corner of Rice Street, and some residents and merchants are not happy about it.

The development will involve the razing of an aging strip center and three single-family homes. Members of the Shoreview City Council unanimously approved the preliminary plat and rezoning plans at their meeting on Monday, March 7, despite concerns voiced by residents.

Elevage, Inc. first proposed plans for the redevelopment in July 2015. The retail center and three homes that are currently there will be demolished and replaced with a five-story upscale apartment complex with 134 units. 

There is also room incorporated into the plan for a freestanding restaurant on site, and 14 townhomes on the northern edge of the new development.

A number of changes were made from the original plan to get to this point, based off of the concerns of homeowners in the area. 

Originally, the apartment building was going to be taller, but the height was reduced in order to cut back on view restrictions. 

The townhomes were also added to act as a buffer between the apartment complex and existing houses in the area.

According to Shoreview Mayor Sandy Martin, the planned unit development proposal allows flexibility and special considerations. 

She conceded that even with the changes, the neighborhood has been opposed to the redevelopment plans. Martin said residents remain nervous about the implications of the development in terms of traffic impacts on the neighborhood, as well as on privacy.

 

Businesses forced to move

Merchants in the strip center are also upset and feel their concerns have gone unheard. Pet Junction closed rather than relocate, and others are unhappy at being forced to move.

Shoreview Barbers was located in the center for around 40 years, and relocated to Thunder Bay Plaza on Little Canada Road in Little Canada over the March 12-13 weekend. 

The manager of Hair Smith Salon, who declined to give her name, said her shop was following suit and moving to Thunder Bay Plaza on March 19.

She expressed frustration and explained, “We’ve been here four years and have put a lot of effort into our store.” She said the salon was not offered a relocation payment by the development company, despite being pushed out and that “none of us are happy about it.” The manager said all the equipment and furnishings had to be disconnected and moved, and estimated the relocation costs at $40,000.

An employee at the Subway said a manager was not available for comment, and didn’t know precisely when the restaurant would be closing.

 

“Great need of upgrading”

In light of the neighborhood homeowners’ concerns, the city council asked that Elevage provide better screening and landscaping on the north corner of the property. 

“It’s been a really tough evaluation process,” Martin explained, “but redevelopment is necessary on this site. It’s in great need of upgrading.”

According to Martin, the three single-family homes that will be torn down had multiple code enforcement issues.

Additionally, she said the strip center is “very old” and has not been flourishing. Multiple stores have failed to succeed there, and council members said they believe this redevelopment could provide a different and needed housing style for the area.

“I definitely understand the concerns of the neighborhood,” Martin said, “but it’s a difference in viewpoint.” She added city council members see the redevelopment as an upgrade, accomplishing city goals for improvement.

While the preliminary plans have received council approval, the  final plat is still pending, so no dates have been set for construction, but Elevage may seek permission to begin demolishing buildings currently on the property. Elevage is paying for the project.

 

Elizabeth Jaeger can be reached at ejaeger@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7814.

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