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Arden Hills approves TCAAP master plan land use map
Council members disagree about park space
A land use master plan map is now in place for the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in Arden Hills, the culmination of a year-long planning process in the development of the 427-acre piece of land situated to the northeast of the intersection of Interstate 35W and Highway 96.
Voting on the plan June 30, the Arden Hills City Council approved the master plan 3-2, with the two “no” votes relating to the future use of a park and residential density issues related to said park.
The master plan, as approved, will provide zoning for three distinct residential neighborhoods at the TCAAP site, a corporate campus or headquarters with zoning for mixed use, retail and commercial buildings, and multiple parks.
A representative from Kimley-Horn and Associates, LLC, a design consulting firm working with Arden Hills on the development of TCAAP, explained to the council that the master plan designates land use.
Further steps, including the Alternative Urban Areawide Review and codifying the development regulations, would further revise and define what will happen at the site.
The northernmost section of the development is referred to as the “Thumb.” The 47-acre parcel of land would be used as a corporate campus or headquarters with 400,000 to 500,000 square feet of office space.
It’s planned as a single occupant site and would be touted as highly visible to passersby on nearby I-35W.
The three planned neighborhoods are estimated to be able to accommodate some 1,500 to 1,700 households over nearly 200 acres; from north to south, they’re tentatively named “Creek,” “Town” and “Hill.”
The “Creek” neighborhood would be bordered by Rice Creek and would be the lowest density of the three neighborhoods with the largest lot sizes, estimated at 70 to 80 feet wide. The remaining two neighborhoods are envisioned as more dense with smaller lot sizes than the Creek neighborhood.
The “Town” would incorporate areas zoned as mixed use as well as residential, based around a town square park, while the “Hill” neighborhood is planned as a more quiet area, laid out over the 90-foot rise on the southeastern side of the TCAAP site.
Remaining areas include a “Town District,” opposite and to the west of the Town neighborhood, with retail and office space, as well as a “Flex District,” envisioned as office, research and light manufacturing space.
Considering all the planned commercial space at the TCAAP site, it’s estimated that the development could be home to 4,000 jobs.
The development will also include a “Green Spine,” open space running north-south dividing the neighborhoods, and would include natural wetlands as stormwater control as well as a 10,000-square-foot water treatment facility.
There are five parks planned for the TCAAP development site, including parks fewer than five acres in size in each of the three neighborhoods with features like tennis courts, basketball courts and multi-sport fields. The Town area’s center square is considered a fourth park.
A fifth park, situated at the bottom of the Hill neighborhood and planned to be just over five acres in size, was approved on the master plan as “program not defined.” Some council members envisioned it as containing a baseball field or something similar, and the inability to decide what should be there became the only sticking point for some council members in approving the plan.
Acknowledging the limitations of the city’s power over county-owned land (Ramsey County purchased TCAAP in 2012 for $28 million), Arden Hills Mayor David Grant said the council was in a special position to have a hand in the planning, and that he approved of the master plan, even if it may end up being tweaked as development moves on.
“I don’t know that it’s going to be the final plan; I think it’s a good plan and it’s a balanced plan,” Grant said. “It deserves going forward.”
Council members Dave McClung and Ed Werner both voted against the master plan. McClung said the fifth park should not have been created using acreage that was first zoned as residential, as it decreased the total number of people that could live on the site. He said the land should have been taken from elsewhere.
Werner objected to the assumed use of the park as a baseball field: “One simple solution would be to remove the ballpark,” he said.
“It’s interesting that we look at this large plan and it comes down to a ball field,” Grant said; the two remaining council members echoed his support of the plan, and the park.
“One thing we hear from our parks and rec people is that the ball fields are busy all the time,” council member Brenda Holden said.
“I would want as much of the land [as possible] to be a park,” council member Fran Holmes said. “In my mind, I would never give up a park on the map that we have at this point.”
For more information about TCAAP, visit http://tcaap.net.
Mike Munzenrider can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-748-7824. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.