An Asian-themed mix of grocery, restaurant, retail, and office uses would occupy the former Gander Mountain building at 12160 Technology Drive if a plan now being reviewed by city officials is approved.
A big first step was accomplished Monday, June 28, when the Eden Prairie Planning Commission endorsed the multi-tenant project, called Asian Plaza, which now advances to city council review.
The concept is similar to the food halls that are springing up across the country: a sprawling market that showcases numerous vendors and shops, most with a food theme.
The local plan would be anchored by nearly 32,000 square foot of grocery space, but would also include full-service restaurants, small-scale retail, a food court, and more – some of it on a greatly expanded mezzanine.
The developer also plans to remodel the building’s façade to go with its Asian theme.
The only hitch appears to be a shortage of parking that the developer hopes to solve with a waiver from city code, coupled with a promise to build a parking ramp if parking problems develop.
With the expansion of the second-floor mezzanine and the type of uses proposed, Asian Plaza is required by code to have 386 parking stalls. But it is 92 parking stalls short of that, and so the owner also plans to shuttle some employees back and forth to the building from another location to preserve parking spaces.
A traffic study provided by the developer shows that, because peak uses vary by tenant, the parking demand is sufficiently spread out. The parking issue isn’t expected to overload nearby city streets, but commissioners on Monday encouraged transit providers to consider making connections to this regional draw.
“This is going to be, we think, a super economic engine when it’s up and running and in full force,” said Jay Isenberg, a consulting architect who represented the developer at Monday’s meeting. “We think it’s going to be a regional draw and an exciting project.”
Commissioner Michael DeSanctis had a similar view. “This is an incredibly interesting and creative project,” he said. “And I think a real shot in the arm, not just for the economy in Eden Prairie, but the whole southwest metro and Minneapolis as well.”