Edina pledged $1.4M to a developer for a 2nd story “public” plaza. Meanwhile, $1.1M for playground equipment at 8 parks is unfunded.
February 14, 2019 Housing & Redevelopment Authority Meeting
7200-7250 France Term Sheet (Shortcut: Page 7) LINK
7200-7250 France Staff Presentation (Shortcut: Page 27) LINK
2019-2023 Capital Improvement Plan (Shortcut: Page 184) LINK
In April 2019, the Edina HRA agreed to provide $12M plus interest (5.5%) over a 20-year period to support a mixed-use residential development at 7200-7250 France. The development includes "an approximately 10,336 square foot, second level outdoor plaza integrated into the 7200 Building (the ‘Plaza’)” (p. 2 Redevelopment Agreement). The initial cost estimate for the Plaza was $1.4M. Although the developer has granted a permanent public easement for the plaza, the developer may also set “reasonable hours of operation for the Plaza” and “impose reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on use of and activity” (p. G-5 Redevelopment Agreement). ADA access to the second-story Plaza has been promised, but specifics not provided.
Meanwhile, new playground equipment and/or full playground replacement at Wooddale, Birchcrest, Fox Meadow, Lewis, Strachauer, Todd, Walnut Ridge and Highlands Parks is unfunded in the capital improvement plan (CIP). In total, there are $17,395,800 in unfunded projects in the Parks category, which does not include almost $3M for new park shelters (at Lewis, Highlands, and Strauchauer), plus additional park facility building improvements.
In 2014, the Edina Parks and Recreation Department completed a needs analysis. Among the major findings were that 51% of Edina residents had visited a playground in the past year (p. 2 Community Needs Assessment Survey). On a list of the most important park facilities to Edina residents, “playground equipment” was fourth (p. 20 Community Needs Assessment Survey). https://www.edinamn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/753/Community-Needs-Assessment-Study-PDF
In lead up to the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, the City completed a Parks Department Strategic Plan. Among the recommendations were to “Replace inadequate and outdated play areas and playgrounds and provide new facilities to address underserved areas” (p. 84). None of the recommendations (p. 18) in the Strategic Plan could be interpreted as supporting a need for a second-story “public” plaza within a private development, especially one paid for with tax dollars (TIF). https://www.edinamn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/754/Part-1---Strategic-Plan-PDF
It is understood that the funding for playgrounds and the funding for the privately-owned and controlled “public” plaza at 7200 France come from different sources. That said, this is an example of our city’s misplaced priorities. The time and focus spent on projects such as the “public” plaza at 7200 France is time and focus not spent on improving the neighborhood parks facilities that build community and improve residents’ quality of life.