Maplewood adopts vision plan for the Rice-Larpenteur area


courtesy of Google Maps • Rice Street Gardens, a community garden located in the northeast corner of the intersection of Rice Street and Roselawn Avenue, is seen as an asset to the community, so the recommendation of the Rice-Larpenteur Gateway Area Vision Plan is to include housing around the garden and build permanent farmers market structures, so residents can grow and sell food in the same neighborhood that they live. The Maplewood City Council voted March 12 to include the vision plan in its 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

courtesy of Google Maps • In the Rice-Larpenteur Gateway Area Vision Plan, Crowne Plaza, the property located on the northeast corner of the Rice/Larpenteur intersection, is recommended to be redeveloped to offer small retail spaces next to Rice Street with housing offered further to the east and a parking lot between the two.

The Rice-Larpenteur Gateway Area Vision Plan will be added to Maplewood’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan after a unanimous city council vote March 12. 

The action was part of the consent agenda at a regular city council meeting, though the council discussed it at its workshop earlier the same evening.

The vision plan involves improvements to be made near the Rice Street and Larpenteur Avenue intersection. The area, referred to as the Rice-Larpenteur Gateway Area, spans from County Road B to Arlington Avenue and from McMenemy Street to Dale Street, including parts of Maplewood, Roseville and St. Paul, and has been under discussion for improvements over the past couple of years.

In general, the vision plan includes adding housing, sidewalks, crosswalks and community gathering places, as well as connecting the gateway to Lake McCarrons and improving the recreation features at Lake McCarrons County Park. It also involves beautifying the corridor with trees and other natural elements, as well as with local art, utilizing colors and patterns that represent the area’s multicultural population.

Maplewood City Council members noted that although most of the areas targeted for redevelopment are not in Maplewood, the city can still be a leader with regards to adding trees, green spaces and connectivity through the corridor.

“Our big piece is probably streetscape and greenscape and tying it all together, and that’s something that can become real probably a little quicker than other things,” said council member Kathleen Juenemann, the council liaison for the Gateway Planning Committee, which contributed to the development of the vision plan.

Two redevelopment opportunities that are in the Maplewood portion of the gateway focus on the areas around Rice Street Gardens and Crowne Plaza.

 

Rice Street Gardens

Rice Street Gardens is a community garden located in the northeast corner of the intersection of Rice Street and Roselawn Avenue. The garden allows people to rent plots for the growing season and is utilized primarily by immigrant families who collectively speak about 10 different languages.

“The idea here, because those gardens are really recognizable and well-loved, was to actually build and design a housing and mixed use model around the gardens,” said John Slack during a presentation of the plan at the council’s workshop. Slack is the project manager and senior landscape architect for the Rice-Larpenteur Gateway Area Vision Plan and represents the consulting firm Perkins+Will.

He explained that the vision for Rice Street Gardens involves maintaining the gardens, maybe adding more structure to how the gardens are laid out, building housing next to the gardens, and possibly adding permanent farmers’ market structures on Rice Street, so people could be growing and selling food in the same neighborhood in which they live.

Slack added that the feedback from St. Paul Regional Water Services, which owns the site, was positive.

“That’s our biggest piece of the multicultural part of this — the Rice Street Gardens and tying that together with accessibility,” Juenemann said.

 

Crowne Plaza

Crowne Plaza, the property located on the northeast corner of the Rice/Larpenteur intersection, is another area highlighted in the vision plan. The property currently includes a strip mall, Burger King, Walgreens and Caribou Coffee. It is also the former site of Stargate Bar & Nightclub, which closed in February 2017 after about 70 gunshots were fired outside it injuring five people.

Slack said that in the vision plan, this area includes both retail and residential buildings connected by a new internal street grid. The retail buildings would be located just off Rice Street with the residential properties located further to the east, with a parking lot located between them.

“In a lot of these concepts we are looking at more of a district parking concept, so starting to consolidate parking internally in interior lots, under buildings and in this case in a parking structure that kind of connects two of the mixed use buildings together,” Slack explained.

 

What’s next?

Slack’s March 12 presentation included a list of short-term and long-term recommendations. At the top of the short-term list was having each city adopt the vision plan into its 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which identifies the city’s long-term vision, goals, policies and strategies to help guide future changes.

At press time, Maplewood was the only city to approve including the entire Rice-Larpenteur Gateway Area Vision Plan into its 2040 Comprehensive Plan. 

“We kind of see ourselves as ... small and mighty, you know, next to St. Paul and Roseville,” said Mayor Nora Slawik, adding the council needs to consider “how do we make our mark, be good partners and continue to move this along?”

“I feel it’s a very good partnership [but] it’s a wee bit fragile, right? So we’ve really got to keep an eye on the ball so the ball doesn’t drop, and particularly in our court,” Slawik added.

According to Slack, St. Paul plans to adopt most of the vision plan’s components, but showed concerns over creating a collaborative zoning district.

Roseville City Council members did not adopt the vision plan at their March 12 council meeting, though their responses to it were positive. They plan to seek public feedback and potentially make revisions over the next few months.

“I think that there’s a great deal of opportunity here, and I think that each of the cities will bring different strengths and backgrounds and leadership,” said City Manager Melinda Coleman. “We just have to remember that it’s an evolving, moving plan and be happy with that.”


 

– Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com

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