TWIN LAKES PROPOSAL TAKING A NEW TWIST - TENTATIVE MALL PLAN STIRS UP HEATED DEBATE
MARISA AGHA, Pioneer Press
July 7, 2003

In the long journey that has been the Twin Lakes project in Roseville, the latest turn has some asking what the future of this suburb will be: malls or neighborhoods?

Planning for Twin Lakes, the largest tract of land currently in the process of redevelopment in the city, has never been easy. The 270-acre site, home to several trucking terminals since the 1950s, has required environmental testing, cleanup and changes in plans.

Most recently, city leaders, in a 3-2 vote, approved a preliminary agreement that would allow developer Roseville Properties to potentially build about 430,000 square feet worth of office space, retail and big-box retail, including a movie theater. Housing also would be in the mix for the area, which is bounded by county roads C and C2 and Cleveland and Snelling avenues.

The previous plan, also proposed by Roseville Properties, called for less dense development, primarily involving high-end office space and housing.

Though officials emphasize the preliminary agreement does not bind the city to any definite development plan, some neighbors are concerned about what they see as a significant shift in the initial plans, particularly the prospect of big-box retail and a movie theater in a city of malls and theaters.

"I just think that it's gotten out of hand," said resident Ev Senty. "Let's remember that there's houses here. It seems to me that Roseville is concerned basically about big business and they're forgetting about residents."

Resident Tim Kotecki says traffic generated by the project ranks high among his gripes.

"My biggest concern is that I just think that Roseville has plenty of retail in the surrounding area," Kotecki said. "I think the current proposal would create a traffic-congestion nightmare (at the corner of Cleveland and County Road D)."

At a recent council meeting, Mayor John Kysylyczyn stressed that it's still too early to know what to expect.

"There are factors that will change this plan," said Kysylyczyn, who along with Council Members Dean Maschka and Greg Schroeder approved the agreement.

"It's going to fluctuate until they break ground."

Council Member Craig Klausing, who along with colleague Tom Kough voted against the concept, says big-box retail will bring vastly different jobs than the more high-end office type the city was talking about a year ago.

"It's a dramatic departure from what we saw initially," Klausing said.

"We do not need more retail in the big scheme of things. ... It's not a chance to do something positive that we ought to be doing."

In addition to approving a site plan, city leaders also would have to consider changing the city's comprehensive plan to allow for the new concept and the creation of a tax-increment financing district that would enable new taxes to pay for redevelopment.

Another complication could be acquiring a portion of the site that Roseville Properties wants to develop. Through the latest agreement with the city, the council could use eminent domain to acquire the land and then sell it to the developer.

But that also could change.

"There are so many surprises that occur," said Dennis Welsch, the city's community development director. "Experience shows that you always have a few surprises along the way."

Marisa Agha, who covers north suburban Ramsey County, can be reached at 651-228-2109 or magha@pioneerpress.com.

2003 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
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