Mounds View considers housing, perhaps gas station, at Crossroads Pointe


file photo • A proposed gas station included with apartments at the city-owned Crossroads Pointe in Mounds View, at the intersection of Mounds View Boulevard and County Road H2, has been met with a chilly reception.

Back in February, the Mounds View City Council shot down a firearm ordinance amendment necessary for a gun range to be built in the city. 

The issue arose due to INH Properties’ proposal to build an apartment complex with a gun range at Crossroads Pointe at the intersection of Mounds View Boulevard and County Road H2.

That proposal fell through without the amendment. INH, though, has an agreement with Mounds View barring the city from entertaining other Crossroads Pointe developments for the year of 2018, said City Administrator Nyle Zikmund. 

INH Properties has returned with two options for Crossroads Pointe. One is a 135-unit apartment building, or a 63-unit apartment building with a Kwik Trip gas station and convenience store. 

The city owns the Crossroads Pointe land and the Mounds View Economic Development Authority will discuss its price range at a closed-door meeting July 9, said Community Development Planner Jon Sevald during a July 2 city council work session meeting. The July 9 meeting took place after press time.

The city will then negotiate the value of Crossroads Pointe, said Zikmund, determining its future development.

 

 

Arrested development

The council’s vision for the blighted property, which it purchased in 2006 and 2013, according to a June 4 staff report, is for a mixed-use, combined residential and commercial project. The council is moving forward with a mixed-use plan based on previous surveys, according to Zikmund, which show “high desire” for businesses like a sit-down restaurant. 

Zikmund said the city has used all of its “contacts and resources” in finding developers willing to break ground at Crossroads, though there is not enough traffic in the area to even remotely interest restaurant developers. The city has made “hundreds of contacts” with prospective grocers, said Zickmund, to no avail. The city started talks with a daycare, though it decided to pursue another location. 

The main factors are that the Crossroads site is too small, and access to the site is bad. There is no access from Mounds View Boulevard, which is under Ramsey County jurisdiction. The city has made multiple requests to the county for access to the Crossroads site from Mounds View Boulevard but were turned away because the county says, among other issues, the access would cause “turning room congestion,” said Zikmund. 

The city will go back to the county to again request access, said Mayor Carol Mueller during the work session meeting July 2, though, she said, the city has a “snowball’s chance.”

In the June 4 report, city staff said the apartments and Kwik Trip option “most closely meets the council’s vision for mixed use.”

 

Resident meeting

INH, and its development team including Trident Development, held a neighborhood meeting to introduce both options — the 135-unit complex and the 63-unit apartment building/Kwik Trip hybrid — at Mounds View City Hall June 27.

Around 35 to 40 people attended, said Zikmund, adding the city received comments before and after the meeting. 

“I would characterize that as a typical turnout,” he said, noting that with almost every development, including this case, there tends to be clear opposition from the adjacent neighborhood. 

Zikmund said the concerns expressed by the neighborhood next to Crossroads Pointe, such as traffic, noise and property value, are all valid. He said the city wants to hear opposition in order to attempt to address potential issues, adding he thinks the city will be able to address concerns over light, noise, and cars “just driving in and out.” One of the options is to reconfigure the exact placement of the building on the project site to best minimize those concerns. 

Property values are much more difficult to nail down said Zikmund. Council member Bill Bergeron said during the July 2 work session that home values drop within 200 or 300 feet of a gas station or convenience store. But beyond that, up to a quarter mile, property values go up because of the proximity to a city amenity. 

Of the 40 or so people at the June 27 neighborhood meeting, noted Zikmund, 17 spoke; three in favor and 14 against. Six were from the immediate Crossroads Pointe neighborhood. Six were from greater Mounds View. Out of the 14 in opposition, two were owners of businesses similar to Kwik Trip.

 

Gas station 

competition

At the July 2 work session, council member Al Hull said he worries the city appears to be “picking winners and losers” among Mounds View gas stations. 

“It’s a city-owned property and we’re gonna sell it to a competitor for other gas stations in the city,” he said, specifically naming the BP station on Highway 10 as particularly vulnerable. 

“It’s the one that probably wouldn’t make it,” continued Hull, adding that would mean another vacant lot for the city. 

There are four gas stations in Mounds View’s roughly four square miles. 

Council member Gary Meehlhause said it’s not the council’s place to pick winners in a marketplace. City staffers said they do not see a need for a fifth station in their June 4 report, but that Kwik Trip “includes a large area of groceries and prepared meals, which differentiates it from other gas stations.”

Scott Stevens spoke at the July 2 work session on behalf of Lucky’s gas station off Highway 10 in Mounds View.  He said it is “kind of offensive” to him and other gas station owners, some who have been in the city for decades, that the city appears to be prioritizing its budding relationship with Kwik Trip.

“I don’t mean to be rude to anybody tonight, but your taking away my livelihood,” said Stevens, adding he believes the 135-unit apartment option provides more jobs and benefits to the economy and is a clear benefit to local businesses that have “earned the right to some degree.”

Leon Theis, who’s owned The Station gas station on County Road I in Mounds View for over 30 years, said he’s concerned the new Kwik Trip will hurt business for existing gas stations. “If these guys wanna come to Mounds View so bad, come and see me,” said the businessman. “I might sell.”

 

Full table

“All option are on the table yet,” said Zikmund, noting everything the city has done outside of seeking out developers has been reactionary. 

First came the apartment and gun club proposal from INH, which the city explored before finally voting against based on strong resident opposition.

Now the city is reacting to the INH options of a 135-unit apartment complex, or the 63-unit apartment building with a Kwik Trip. 

After the city has set a price range, negotiations will begin with INH, said Zikmund. If the two parties cannot come to an agreed price, INH still has the development rights for the remainder of the year. 

Zikmund called the INH development team “people of integrity,” and said, after this latest proposal, if INH says its not working, it would probably release the city from the development agreement. 

 

– Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815

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