Excelsior and Grand

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Dusk view of mixed-use retail and residential along Grand Way in St. Louis Park, Minn.Apartments and a grocery store front directly onto Excelsior Blvd., an arterial road redesigned for greater pedestrian and transit friendliness.Site plan of development.

Location: St. Louis Park, MN, 55416, USA. Arterial in an inner-ring suburb adjacent to major park

The suburb of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, just southwest of Minneapolis, launched a vision plan in 1994 to create a 125-acre downtown called Park Commons. The site included blighted, auto-oriented commercial development along Excelsior Boulevard, a major arterial and bus route. A 15-acre parcel between Excelsior and a large park (connecting to the metro region's trail network and a planned light rail corridor) was identified for mixed-use development. Three years of meetings and a first attempt at development resulted in the selection of a developer in 2000.

The project included a complete redesign of Excelsior Boulevard into a four-lane landscaped avenue with parallel parking; the creation of Grand Way, a public green with mixed retail and residential; and 1,650 shared parking spaces in underground and midblock garages. Interestingly, most retail faces directly toward the arterial. Housing is half rental and half owner, with affordable units on site.

The first phase also includes improvements to an adjacent 35-acre park with an ampitheater and recreation center.

The project uses $30 million in public financing, including city tax increment financing and grants from the Metropolitan Council (the regional government) and the state of Minnesota, for predevelopment planning, site preparation, remediation, and public infrastructure.

Read more at this project's website.

Lessons learned: Complex mixed-use redevelopment projects take time, a shared vision, and partnerships. (from a Metropolitan Council fact sheet on project)

Transect Zone(s): T5 center.
Status: 76-99% Built
Guiding Charter Principle(s): 23
Project or Plan's Scale: Neighborhood
Features: Affordable/subsidized housing, Bus transit, Civic buildings & parks, Mixed uses, Sustainable infrastructure, Transit oriented development.
Land area (in acres): 15
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency): 1.608
Retail area (in sq. ft.): 91000
Office area (in sq. ft.):
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work): 660
Civic uses (type and size): 1.5 acre town green connecting arterial and regional park
Parks & green space (in acres): 1
Residential types: Mid-rise/loft, Low-rise flats.
Project team designers: Damon Farber Associates (landscape); Elness Swenson Graham Architects (planning & architecture); McCombs, Frank, Roos Associates (civil); Bor-Son Construction and Kraus Anderson Construction (GCs); Town Planning Collaborative (master plan concept)
Project team developers: TOLD

Previous site status: Greyfield (former commercial)

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: 2001 - 2007