A sign that light-rail transit (LRT) construction is influencing development in Eden Prairie is a large apartment project called Blue Stem North, endorsed Monday, Jan. 10, by the city’s planning commission.
The 425-apartment Blue Stem North project at 6901 Flying Cloud Drive would not be within walking distance to existing shopping, city parks, or schools. But it would be within walking distance to the Golden Triangle LRT Station, one of four LRT stations planned for Eden Prairie and one located in the job-rich area of northeastern EP.
It would also be another entry in the city’s transit-oriented development (TOD) zone, a type of zoning Eden Prairie adopted in 2016 to promote higher residential density, higher employment density, and pedestrian-oriented development near transit stations. TOD zoning was first implemented in the Elevate apartment project near SouthWest Station, currently a bus hub but soon to be an LRT hub as well.
Proposed by Greco Properties, the Blue Stem North project got high marks from planning commissioners as it moves forward to city council review. In addition to being near mass transit, it would have amenities that include walking trails, pools, spas, pickleball courts, and a dog run
“I would be excited about living in this kind of community,” commented Commissioner Carole Mette.
Greco Properties is a Twin Cities-area developer that has been involved in the construction of about 4,000 apartment units in the metro area, said Josh Brandsted, managing partner and president.
Its Eden Prairie project southeast of the intersection of Highway 212 and Shady Oak Road is technically a redevelopment. The city OK’d construction of a 128,000-square-foot office building on this site in 2007. Soil correction and some work on the foundation of what was called Liberty Plaza commenced, but the Great Recession followed in 2008, and the project was abandoned.
Times change, LRT construction is underway, and now the property is seen as a way to place residents near mass transit and nearby employers.
The property does have limitations. Because of extensive wetlands, only about 6 acres of the 15.3-acre site can be developed. But Brandsted labeled that as an opportunity to place residences near scenic nature to create “one of the premier living sites in the Twin Cities, once it’s developed.”
The plan includes multiple buildings as tall as six stories and apartments ranging from a 485-square-foot studio apartment to a 1,500-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment. Phase one would be 237 units with groundbreaking next July. Phase two, 188 units, would be constructed once phase one is 80 percent leased, according to Brandsted.
The developer will be seeking tax-increment financing from the city to help make 25 percent of the apartment units affordable to persons who meet various income guidelines.
Mark Weber is executive director of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation.