Hopkins will soon begin investigating the possibility of building a new parking ramp on the old Snyder Drug property at 15 Ninth Ave. N.
Officials say a new ramp will concentrate downtown parking—allowing further redevelopment opportunities and welcoming businesses that can’t come in because of parking shortages.
“We’re really built on a shared parking system that, I think, is maxed out,” said Kersten Elverum, the city’s director of economic development and planning.
Planners envision a three-level parking garage that would have about 230 parking stalls, said Public Works Director Steve Stadler. The city could add up to two more 90-stall levels when parking demands increase.
Hopkins already has $1 million in Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County grants to acquire the property—which is assessed at $730,000 and has a market value of $1.1 million.
Construction is expected to cost between $3.9 million and $6.5 million, said Tara Beard, Hopkins’ community development coordinator. Staff would seek outside grants, notably those targeted at so-called “transit oriented development.” Beard presented a $4.9 million package of possible funding options that included some of those grants.
But Stadler said there would “most assuredly (be) some city contribution at some point.” Beard’s funding package envisioned $650,000 in city bond sales and $500,000 in excess tax increment financing revenue.
The proposal echoes the 11th Avenue parking ramp, which Hopkins officials routinely cite as an example of the city’s forward-thinking mindset. When that ramp was built, there was little need for all the additional spaces. But the extra parking opened up further development opportunities, such as the Hopkins Center for the Arts.
The new ramp would be a part of continued revitalization around the Eighth Avenue corridor. Planners aim for the street to become a gateway into Hopkins’ downtown, both for drivers and future Southwest Light Rail Transit riders at the stop just across Excelsior.
The proposed parking ramp—the only major piece of public infrastructure under discussion in the Eighth Avenue corridor—would allow a “destination amount of commercial” in the area, said City Engineer John Bradford.
New mixed-use developments are already adding commercial space to the corridor. , whose apartments open in mid-September, and site will both include retail space—although Marketplace & Main does not yet have any leases for its commercial space and Klodt has warned that the market won’t necessarily support retail now.
Still: “We’re going to need parking. Something’s going to happen. Development’s going to happen—with or without light rail,” said Councilwoman Kristi Halverson.
The city doesn’t plan to sign off on the ramp right away, though. Mayor Gene Maxwell wants to ensure the project would be the best use of the city’s limited development money. The proposed TIF funds, for example, account for about 20 to 25 percent of the city’s current excess TIF revenue.
Council members also want a solid plan for seeking residents’ input on the project and for staff to contact nearby homeowners.
For now, the city will have an appraiser look at the property and staff will start applying for grants. In order to seek public input and investigate feasibility thoroughly, Hopkins wouldn’t close on the Snyder property for at least six months after executing the grant agreement.
“(Moving forward) is not making a commitment, ‘Yes, we will do it.’ It’s saying, ‘Yes, it’s worthy of further investigation,’” Bradford said. “There’s a lot of these kinds of details that we have to work through with our due diligence piece.”
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