Hopkins is bracing for pressure to use property in the community for a Southwest Light Rail Transit operation and maintenance facility that will service trains along the corridor.
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. They’ve now identified 18 sites, including four in Hopkins.
The sites are:
- The Hopkins landfill (south of Seventh Street South)
- 415 11th Ave. S. and the western Hopkins Honda parking lot
- 8098 Excelsior Blvd.
- The Powell Business Center (7900 Excelsior Blvd.)
(The list also includes a site made up of five parcels on K-tel Drive, just across the border in Minnetonka. Click on the PDFs to the right of this article to see maps of local sites and list of candidate sites.)
Hopkins officials are actually not all that resistant to the idea of an operation and maintenance facility on the landfill property. The city doesn’t bring in any tax revenue from the 30-acre site, and it’s unlikely to turn into a lucrative redevelopment project. Meanwhile, a facility there would bring 100 to 125 jobs into the community, City Engineer John Bradford said.
That puts the landfill site in the unique position of being the only proposed location among the 18 possibilities identified that community leaders haven’t rejected outright, Bradford said.
“It’s the only one of all 18 that anyone’s said is reasonably acceptable,” he added.
But even though Hopkins officials are willing to be accommodating on the landfill property, they remain staunchly opposed to building the facility on the other three sites. Not only would the sites eliminate redevelopment opportunities, they would take a property off the city’s tax rolls.
Acquisition of the 11th Avenue South properties 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 Powell Business Center 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 Southwest LRT design team will next narrow the possibilities to five or six sites and seek input from project committees in late April and early May. Public open houses will take place in May in the cities where the sites are.
Before the sites are narrowed down, Hopkins plans to send a letter stating the city’s opposition to all sites except for the landfill.
“I think it’s important that we send a clear message from our elected (officials) that this is not acceptable,” Bradford said.
Officials don’t plan to step up resistance unless one of those sites is selected as one of the five or six finalists.