Editorial, Pioneer Press
Date: July 26, 2004

Roseville seems poised to turn a corner on its long, twisting road toward redevelopment of the Twin Lakes industrial site in the northwest part of the city. But there's still cost to consider and lingering controversy as the Roseville City Council approaches a Sept. 30 deadline to decide whether to proceed with the first phase of the major project.

The city has done this right, working deliberately and with a wealth of citizen input. It's time to push from vision to action.

The biggest cost question is how the city will pay to clean up about 100 acres of brownfields created by trucking businesses whose waste solvents, petroleum products and organic leavings in landfills have seeped into the soil at the site. The council is expected to decide on Aug. 9 what economic tools the developer can use to pay for site cleaning. The decision is pivotal and complex. Roseville has been slogging through on Twin Lakes redevelopment since 1988 -- or before. Choosing how to pay for reclaiming the land puts the last vital numbers into the equation of whether to proceed with the first phase of an economic renaissance in the area between Cleveland and Snelling avenues and county roads C and C2.

The most potentially controversial aspect of this first phase involves whether it should have a big-box store, such as Costco. That's the recommendation of project developer Rottlund Homes and the majority of a stakeholders panel that presented its report to the council this month. The recommendations are for a $220 million project with multifamily housing and an office and retail mix that includes a big-box store on a parcel at County Road C and Cleveland Avenue. The majority of stakeholders, in their report to the City Council, agreed with the argument that a large anchor store is necessary in the project mix. Five members of this citizen panel expressed concerns about various aspects of this plan for the first phase of the Twin Lakes redevelopment.

Others in the city oppose the big-box, saying small shops and corporate offices are better as a generator of good jobs and would make traffic more manageable than if there were a big retailer at a corner.

We agree with the economic evidence behind the inclusion of a big-box. Modern shopping preferences make convenience and lower prices a driver of business to a new area. Big-box stores fulfill those customer desires. Quaint and small businesses are lovely, but only as a part of a commercial mix in contemporary suburban economic strategies.

Roseville and an active citizen base have come to a reasonable proposal to reclaim Twin Lakes, beginning with this first phase to provide much-needed multifamily housing and a commercial mix to boost economic life in this part of the city. The City Council now has what it needs -- a well-informed proposal with extensive buy-in through the stakeholder process.

2004 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.