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Four Hopkins Sites Shortlisted for Southwest LRT Maintenance Facility

Hopkins officials worry that a maintenance facility could take away from the tax base and eliminate development opportunities.

Hopkins accounts for nearly half the sites on a short list of possible locations for a Southwest Light Rail Transit operation and maintenance facility that will service trains along the corridor, according to a list the Metropolitan Council released to Patch on Thursday.

The project’s draft environmental impact statement identified just six possible sites where the facility could be located—five sites in Eden Prairie and one in Minneapolis. However, planners decided that the start of preliminary engineering was a good time to take a look at more sites and they eventually identified 18 sites.

The latest list narrows the candidates to nine sites. Those sites are:

  • City Garage West: Technology Drive and Wallace Road in Eden Prairie
  • City Garage East: 15150 Technology Drive in Eden Prairie
  • Mitchell East: Technology Drive and Mitchell Road in Eden Prairie
  • Shady Oak/West 70th Street: Shady Oak Road and Flying Cloud Drive in Eden Prairie
  • K-Tel: Shady Oak Road and K-Tel Drive in Minnetonka
  • K-Tel East: Fifth Street South and 15th Avenue South in Hopkins
  • 11th Avenue West: Fifth Street South and 11th Avenue South in Hopkins
  • Excelsior West: 8098 Excelsior Boulevard in Hopkins
  • Excelsior East: Excelsior Boulevard and Powell Road at the border of Hopkins and St. Louis Park

The maintenance facility is the site where light rail vehicles will be cleaned, stored and undergo light maintenance. It will have 180 operator and maintenance jobs. Hopkins officials were willing to accommodate an operations and maintenance facility on the landfill, which was one of the 18 sites identified in the last phase.

However, they argue that the other sites, including the ones selected as finalists, would eliminate redevelopment opportunities and take a property off the city’s tax rolls.

Acquisition of the 11th Avenue South parcels would cause the greatest impact. Together, they pay nearly $475,000 in total taxes, according to Hennepin County property tax records. The 8098 Excelsior Blvd. property pays $290,000, and the Excelsior East parcel pays $108,000.

Hopkins staff argue that the community’s four square miles is just too limited to be losing such a significant amount of commercial real estate.

The Met Council has scheduled meetings to solicit feedback on the shortlisted sites. The Hopkins meeting takes place from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 22 in the Hopkins Center for the Arts’ Jaycees Studio.

Meetings are also taking place from:

  • 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 13 at the Eden Prairie City Center Heritage Rooms (8080 Mitchell Road)
  • 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 15 at the Southwest Project Office (6465 Wayzata Blvd, Ste. 500, St. Louis Park)

The Metropolitan Council will use comments gathered at the meetings to choose the preferred site later this year.

It will select the preferred site based on the following “operational evaluation criteria”:

  • Effective site configuration
  • Close proximity to the mainline
  • Good connection to the mainline
  • Access for the operations staff

It will also be evaluating locations based on the following site characteristics:

  • Adjacent land-use compatibility
  • Transit Oriented Development/mixed use/economic development considerations
  • Zoning
  • Site and facilities cost: facilities, grading, utilities, soils
  • Real estate acquisition: cost, complexity, legalities
  • Relocation cost: displaced occupants and uses
  • Environmental impact: wetlands, hazardous materials
  • Cultural resources: cultural, historical
  • Stormwater management: drainage, treatment
cheryl youakim May 04, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Please come to the Hopkins meeting on May 22 to voice your opinion! Especially if you live in the neighborhoods that will be effected.
Mike B. May 04, 2013 at 01:00 PM
The light rail is a boondoggle. With that being said, it's hard to understand why Hopkins officials would object to the operations center because it would interfere with other "commercial development." Developers have little interest in Hopkins. Just look at the distressed situation of downtown Hopkins.
James Warden (Editor) May 04, 2013 at 03:11 PM
The Park Nicollet project will have 163 apartment units and retail space. Marketplace and Main has 53 high-end apartment units. Across the street, Marketplace Lofts has 48 condos. As the density increases, there will be more customers for local businesses and more improvements to the downtown. Meanwhile, Sam Stiele, a local businessman with a real love of Hopkins, just bought the Boston Garden property and has big plans for it that should involve substantial changes to the site. And on Blake Road, the Cold Storage site has enormous potential. There is a huge amount of opportunity for a city that's just four square miles, so I don't get the hate. Yes, there's a lot of work still to be done. But if you're not happy with the way things are, jump in and lend a hand. Sign up for one of the boards or commissions. Volunteer. Join the Historical Society. Share your thoughts at a public hearing. Get involved with your neighborhood association. Volunteer with one of the local festivals. It's ridiculously easy to participate in Hopkins — and the community would love to have you join in.
John Cooley May 04, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Well said, James.

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