Minutes - 4/2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 10:50 AM

District 10 Community Council, Land Use Committee

Monday April 12, 2010, 7:00 PM

Historic Streetcar Station

 

Minutes

Committee/Board Members and Guests Present: Chris Harkness, Chris Martineau, Barbara Frick, William Sylvester, Linda Hinderscheit, Pete Bolstad, Panod Klongtruatroke

 

Called to Order at 7:00 PM: Agenda and March 2010 Minutes approved.

 

Heard TIP Ad Hoc Committee update from Committee Chair Pete Bolstad. Pete encouraged community members to attend the open house hosted by Kimley Horn at the Como Zoo and Conservatory Visitors’ Center on Wednesday, April 14.

 

Viewed the new drawing presented by MGM VP Paul Setter of MGM’s proposal to replace the current MGM buildings with a Walgreens store. During discussions, Mr. Setter described how the new proposal slightly smaller repositioned building that allowed for more square footage that the previous plan in the backyards of the homes across the alley from the current MGM site. The lot sizes would be roughly the same size as most of the homes on the other side of California.

 

Listened to feedback by community members. More two dozen area neighbors attended, as well as Councilmember Lee Helgen, Mark Robinson from Paster Enterprises and MGM owner Michael Maglich and John Kohler, the architect who is preparing the drawings for Walgreens. The main concern expressed involved the alley. Area residents and committee members in attendance concur that the alley cannot provide access to the Walgreens parking lot. Councilmember Helgen indicated that alleys can be a dead-ended with a turn-around if the neighbors approve. Such a solution would cost Walgreens some parking spaces.

 

Heard major concerns involving the potential for increased traffic, i.e. a Walgreens is open more days and hours than MGM is. Mr. Kohler countered that Walgreens attracts more of a “trickle” of traffic throughout the day, as opposed to MGM, which attracts most of its traffic during the evening rush hour. He stated that a pharmacy is “one of the better uses” from a traffic standpoint. There was also considerable discussion about turning movements in and out of Walgreens and the likelihood of more cut-through traffic on California Street. Several residents questioned the effectiveness of the proposed left turn lane exiting Walgreens on Lexington.

 

Further concerns expressed involved the size and height of the store, lighting and signage, materials used for the store façade and fence, the hours of store operation and length of the Walgreens lease. For more complete details see the notes addendum following these minutes.

 

Polled community members by show of hands concerning their preferences:

Walgreens vs. MGM as it is today                                                    Walgreens by slim majority

Walgreens vs. unknown entity yet to be decided, but not MGM          Walgreens by larger majority

Walgreens if the alley access is closed                                               All but 1 in favor

 

 

Next meeting: May 10, 7:00 pm, at Java Train unless otherwise announced.

 

Adjourned: 8:30 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted by Chris Harkness

 

Addendum: Notes on Discussion provided by Linda

Hinderscheit

 

Notes on Discussion of Revised MGM/Walgreens Proposal

 

Others in attendance in addition to the Land Use Committee, Lexington Larpenteur Node Plan ad hoc Committee, and community members:

          Paul Setter and Mike Maglich (MGM)

          John Kohler (architect for Walgreens)

          Mark Robinson (Paster Enterprises)

          Lee Helgen, St. Paul City Councilmember

 

 

Paul Setter presented the revised proposal for redevelopment of the current MGM property into a Walgreens:

 

          Increased the size of the backyards for the MGM owned homes.

          The house on the corner of Lexington and California will not have to be rotated.

          The addition on the back of 1117 California could be retained. 

          The greenspace on Larpenteur was removed to allow the store to be moved toward Larpenteur in order to increase the size of the backyards.

          The resulting properties are consistent in size with those on the north side of California and the first four homes on the south side of California on the on the east side of Lexington.

          One house will be removed to allow space for driveways between the remaining four homes.

          The design of the garages has not been finalized.  

          The green space on Lexington was widened.

          The ingress/egress curb cut on Lexington was widened to include a left turn lane for traffic exiting the property.

          The drive through will be on the west side of the store, near the rear of the building. (Barriers could be put up to direct drive through traffic.)

          In this plan, the alley remained open into the parking lot.

 

Alley:

Lee Helgen had contacted Public Works about options for dead-ending the alley and still providing space for vehicles to turn around at the end.  He had forwarded those options to MGM/Walgreens and stated that he had expected to see an option for dead-ending the alley in this revised proposal.

There was overwhelming agreement among community members present that the alley cannot open into the Walgreens parking lot.

 

Paul Setter said the alley does remain an “outstanding issue” and that a turn around at the end will result in a decreased number of parking spaces.  The requirements of the City of St. Paul for commercial parking spaces are changing in the near future to require fewer spaces per square foot of store. The rationale is that urban stores attract pedestrians as well as vehicular traffic.

 

 

Traffic Issues:

Concern was expressed about traffic exiting the commercial area by turning right on Lexington, right on California, right on Dunlap and then on to the light on Larpenteur (cut through traffic in the neighborhood).

 

Concern was expressed about traffic and turning movement conflicts, particularly on Lexington between California and Larpenteur.

 

The architect stated that Walgreens attracts more of a “trickle” of traffic all through the day, as opposed to MGM, which attracts most of its traffic during the evening rush hour. He stated that a pharmacy is “one of the better uses” from a traffic standpoint.

 

We are still waiting for data regarding expected number of Walgreens customers per day compared to current number of MGM customers per day. (This has been requested twice.)

 

Size of Store:

The square footage of the store has been decreased somewhat from the first proposal (14,328 square feet to 13, 250 square feet).

 

The architect stated that the size planned is standard for stores built at this time. 

 

The maximum allowable height of buildings in commercial areas zoned B2 in St. Paul is 30 feet. Walgreens stores are not usually that high. Height is projected to be 22 to 27 feet (including the parapet).

 

Design of Store (including signage and lighting):

Electronic signs are not allowed in St. Paul B2 zoning.  (LH says Yeah!) Exterior lighting will utilize shoebox fixtures set on poles less than 20 feet in height. The light bulb itself will not be visible. The effect is more like a lamp.

 

The architect showed a sample exterior design. Architecture in urban settings utilizes more “detail” with brick covering the exterior on all four sides of the building.

 

Barrier between homes and commercial area:

Height of the barrier and materials used are part of future discussions. 

 

Drive through and hours of operation:

A question was raised about 24-hour operation. The architect replied, “Not that I’m aware of. Other 24-hour stores are close enough.” The community is uniformly opposed to 24-hour operation.

 

The drive through is for prescription pick-up only. The architect explained that the drive through in pharmacies is necessary for patients with suppressed immune systems.

 

Leasing:

Walgreens would not own the building or property.  Walgreens would lease the store from a real estate trust.  Most Walgreens are currently leased for 25-75 years.  As part of the lease, Walgreens would take care of the property.

 

The lease is up at the current Walgreens store in the strip mall owned by Paster Enterprises on Lexington in Roseville. (Mark Robinson was asked by a community member if Paster Enterprises is still discussing development of the Flowerama/Ted’s Bar site into a Walgreens.  Mark Robinson stated that he thinks they are.  If the MGM/Walgreens proposal moves forward, there are no current alternate plans for the Flowerama/Ted’s Bar site.)

 

Support:

The community is much more likely to approve of the MGM/Walgreens redevelopment plans going to the next step if the alley is dead-ended.

 

One resident stated that he would rather have a Walgreens than a 3-4 story apartment building. 

Lee Helgen stated he has talked to the vet and dentist who have businesses directly to the west of MGM. He felt they did not have any strong opposition to Walgreens development including possible dead-ending of the alley.

 

Several ad hoc committee members pointed out that MGM has taken into account the recommendations of the Lexington Larpenteur Node Plan ad hoc committee.

 

 

District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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